West Ham have tonight slammed Sheffield United's intention to sue them for the cost of relegation as 'desperate'.
The Blades recently failed in their High Court bid to force a new Premier League action against West Ham over the Carlos Tevez affair.
However, they have now decided on a new course of action which they hope will lead to the award of considerable damages. They have estimated the cost of their relegation at between £30million and £50million.
The Blades are suing over a breach of contract and claim to have evidence which proves West Ham 'misled' the original independent panel by failing to disclose vital information relating to their arrangement with Tevez's adviser Kia Joorabchian.
But the Hammers tonight issued a statement to PA Sport which read: 'We are extremely disappointed that Sheffield United have seen fit to embark on this latest desperate action.
'Not only does Sheffield United's claim lack legal merit, but it is also based on their incorrect belief that West Ham withheld an agreement from the Premier League and the April disciplinary commission.
'In fact, long before the disciplinary hearing, West Ham United made the Premier League fully aware of the existence and status of the agreement in question.
'This agreement was then included in the documentation produced for the disciplinary commission, who were therefore also aware of its existence throughout the proceedings.
'Sheffield United's latest assertions clearly demonstrate a fundamental misunderstanding of the situation, and any proceedings brought by them will be vigorously defended by West Ham.
'In the meantime, West Ham and the new owners will not permit these repeated slurs to go unchallenged and are in discussions with their legal advisers in relation to the action they might take.'
Earlier the Blades had themselves issued a statement which read: 'Sheffield United today announced that we are to issue proceedings against West Ham United in connection with the 'Tevez Affair'.
'Sheffield United will claim substantial damages for breaches of contract by West Ham.
'The move comes as the transfer of Carlos Tevez from West Ham to Manchester United is completed and the player makes his debut for his new club.
'Sheffield United's basis for the claim is that West Ham acted dishonestly in obtaining the registration of Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano, in that they failed to reveal that those players were owned by a third party.
'The Premier League would not have registered those players with West Ham had they known the true position.
'The players, particularly Tevez, played a key role in West Ham's season, giving West Ham an unfair advantage at the expense of the other Premiership teams - including Sheffield United - all of which had played by the rules.
'Sheffield United are confident that sufficient remedies exist in law to ensure the Tevez affair cannot simply be brushed under the carpet.'
The Blades have put the cost of relegation at between £30million and £50million.
West Ham were fined £5.5million by the Premier League over the Tevez affair in April.
Sheffield United believe they should have been docked points for such a serious breach of rules but failed in their attempts to have the original punishment changed or the hearing reconvened.