How clueless are the FA?

by Dexy Longshot

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

Fine with a fine

Fines alone are rarely an apt form of punishment, especially in industries that promise significant financial rewards in return for success (or, in the Premier League’s case, survival). The Premier League, however, saw fit to simply fine Wolverhampton Wanderers for unsporting conduct (with respect to their fielding of a severely weakened team against Manchester United in December in order to rest players for a vital match against Burnley later that week) in the same way that they decided that West Ham United should face a fine alone for their misleading over the registration of Carlos Tevez.

If the victory over Burnley in December provides Wolverhampton with just enough points to remain in the Premier League, just as Carlos Tevez was arguably the player who saved West Ham from relegation, then any reasonable person would consider £25,000 to be a paltry price to pay for such a privilege. In other words the Premier League’s latest ruling suggests to clubs battling relegation that they can rest practically their entire team for an ‘un-winnable’ match, provided that they are willing to pay a few pennies for the right to do so.

This scenario brings to mind a loophole that used to exist in property law. In the past, whenever you built property on land without planning permission, the court ordered you to pay a fine and nothing more. Consequently property developers built whole estates without permission, accepted the fine as a necessary and insignificant evil and then proceeded with the glorious profiteering. When the courts realised what was going on, however, the laws were changed to make it that not only was a fine imposed but any illegally-erected property had to be torn down as well. Therefore cheating the system was no longer an option.

Can the Premier League respond to the current situation in a similar fashion?  It is impossible to say as the appropriate punishment depends heavily upon the offence committed. Neil Warnock was, one could say, quite adamant that West Ham should have been docked points either in place of or on top of their fine. Alternatively Wolverhampton’s actions could be combated with a replay (however this would be unfair on Burnley so perhaps not). Ultimately, if the Premier League did indeed fine Wolverhampton in order to deter similar offences, they need to reconsider their methods of punishment otherwise they run the risk of encouraging unsporting behaviour instead.

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  • SouthernWolf

    Hi, seeing as though you seem so intelligent, I was wondering if you could name Wolves so called strongest 11?

    McCarthy has struggled all season, so it will be relief to let him know such talented individuals such as yourself and the FA are there to offer some help.

  • DiabloWolf

    If you wish to express opinions, please can you be a touch more researched with your thinking.

    Firstly the FA are not The Premier League, a common misconception it seems, but one which does no favours to the FA in this instance as it was the Premier League who fined WWFC.

    Secondly as SouthernWolf implied, the precedent set by this ruling is indeed very dangerous. There are many previous instances when teams (Liverpool v Fulham, Man U v West Ham to name but 2) made 8 or 9 changes to their ‘First’ team because of forthcoming fixtures. These have gone unpunished, indeed hardly got a mention at the time even though they completely skewed the final relegation standings that season.

    To suggest that The Premier League should enforce a stronger punishment is absurd, when the initial punishment is based on a very subjective squad appraisal. The players that played included multi-million pound aquisitions, internationals, former players or the season, all professional quad players paid a healthy Premier League wage. Squad players.

    It’s not for the Premier League to decide who McCarthy picks, or Ferguson, Benitez or Ancellotti for that matter.

    We’d like our £25,000 back please.

  • Kobe Wolf

    It’s not true that Wolves played a weakened team at Old Trafford. Wolves had a very young team in the Championship last year, with Craddock the only player over 27, and no players with extensive and successful experience of the Premier League were bought last summer. So you would expect some of last season’s starting members not to make the grade and for the team to slowly improve.
    The first team that lost 0-3 at Old Trafford did better than the reserve team that McCarthy had previously been playing. Why was the early-season team not so good? Because McCarthy couldn’t drop last season’s regulars without giving them a chance. Having given them that chance, by December it was obvious that some of them would not make the grade and changes were needed.
    Wolves have a squad. The team has not been convincing this season–that’s why it’s important to look at alternative players. As a direct result of the Old Trafford match Hahnemann, Zubar and Foley have since established themselves as regular members of the 1st XI, with the result that Wolves are showing improved form.
    Wolves “top-three” games (all lost):
    Nov 07: Arsenal (h) 1-4
    Nov 21: Chelski (a) 0-4
    Dec 15: Man Utd (a) 0-3
    Feb 20: Chelski (h) 0-2
    With these results, how come Wolves can be accused of fielding a weakened team at Old Trafford, when Wigan lost 1-9 at Tottenham. Are the FA saying Wolves are several classes superior to Wigan or that Man U are much weaker than Arsenal and Chelsea?
    Why do the FA say Wolves fielded a weakened team? Because they are ignorant tossers who are totally clueless!
    Long live Mick McCarthy, the honest manager!

  • Dexylongshot

    I like MacCarthy a lot, old School, he don’t mess his words, he says what he thinks, a bit like Warnock. I too think it’s out of order, one rule for some, other rules for someone else. They should really get together and sort out some basics with the first being, a squad is a squad and the manager can pick whoever he likes in that squad regardless of opposition. If Fabio picks the worst 11 players against the Slovs in the 3rd group game because we have already qualified top, I personally wouldn’t give a monkeys.

  • Shaun May

    I appreciate that only Mick McCarthey knows his strongest team, but at the time of the match the players had so few starts between them that it was certainly not an established team – regardless of how good it was. With that information alone one can infer that there was no intention to challenge for a win.

    Personally I feel it is slightly depressing how managers choose which games are winnable and which ones are not – a la Gary Cook’s infamous trajectory – and act on that basis in the same way that politicians tend to select areas where they would be the most successful rather than effect change in their own. What McCarthy did was not in the spirit of the game but I can completely understand why he did it with regards to the financial incentives from doing so.

    It should also be noted that Capello chose his strongest team against Ukraine as he knew that a win for Ukraine would guarantee them a place at the World Cup at the expense of Croatia. England lost anyway but had they effectively thrown the game away then there certainly would have been controversy over that. In the same way teams such as Burnley could feel aggrieved if they are relegated due to the points not attained from the game against Wolves in which the opposition had manufactured an unfair advantage for themselves.

    p.s. thank you for pointing out that I had confused the FA and the Premier League, Diablowolf.

  • Copenhagen Wolf

    I understand your concern. We all want teams to put on their best effort in order to win games, everytime.
    However as has allready been pointed out, the team playing against Man Utd didnt do much worse than the team put out to play against Chelsea or Arsenal.
    Also, how was it being unfair to Burnley? If our team were more rested, then maybe they are taking the wrong approach to games, and should have rested some players, instead of playing the same starting eleven every game of the season.
    Last, but not least – It wasnt a youth or reserve team put out at OT. It was a team were only Friend and Hill could be considered out of their depht. All the rest are Premiership material.

  • Shaun May

    The team did not do that badly against Manchester United all things considered, the sad fact is that Manchester United were playing so poorly at the time that Wolves had a good chance of taking something from Old Trafford – and I do not say that out of bitterness as I am a Manchester United fan myself. Ultimately the fans are happy so Mick McCarthy’s ploy worked – especially, as already pointed out, as the fine incurred is nothing compared to the potential reward of Premier League survival.

    To refer to the comment made about Burnley not doing the same as Wolves, Burnley’s squad is so much smaller. The argument about playing weaker teams has come up far later than it should have consdiering that some managers, especially Sir Alex Ferguson, have been doing it for a long time. The problem is that the ‘moral code’ that says that you should try to win every game definately favours richer teams with bigger squads who can rest key players and still field a team capable of winning. Mick McCarthy does the same and is immediately found out.

    What I am trying to say is that this debate goes far deeper than simply why managers should have the right to do what McCarthy did. It also involves the shift from a team-game to a squad-game and relative poverty in the leagues that is only going to increase unless every proffessional team in England is bought by an Arab billionaire.

  • Baffled

    Imagine a situation where United had a lower team, say wolves, on sunday followed by a tough premiership game, say chelsea, on wednesday. If Fergie decided to play some normally non-starting XI players, e.g. Gibson or Owen, against Wolves, would you as a United fan (or indeed any neutral) have any complaints with that? By your logic united are being unfair on chelsea. If they then won the premiership because they beat chelsea, how many people do you think would complain?

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