Couch Potato comments on the recent decision by the PL to give Wolves a suspended fine for fielding a weakened side at Old Trafford and discusses the implications.
Wolverhampton Wanderers gaffer, Mick McCarthy broke the rules last December by fielding a weakened side against United at Old Trafford in order to rest his key players ahead of Wolves important clash with the Clarets at Molineux a few days later.
The clash at Molineux was a vital six-pointer with both teams striving to avoid relegation,a match which the Clarets lost 2-0. Both clubs of course were promoted to the top flight last season and both were and still are seeking to avoid an immediate return to the Championship.
The difference is we seem to be trying to do it fairly and within the rules.
Couch Potato discusses the recent decision by the Premier League to give Wolves a £25,000 suspended fine following an investigation of McCarthy’s disgraceful behaviour.
Following the Premier League slapping a £25,000 suspended fine on Wolves for fielding their reserves in a Prem League fixture at Old Trafford, the Wolves chief executive, Jez Moxey said:
‘One thing that’s never been in question is the integrity of Mick McCarthy. He picked a team that, in his view, was in the best possible position to get a result in that particular game. He made it unselfishly and with the best interests of Wolves in mind.’
Do you question Mick McCarthy`s integrity?
This was my reaction at the time, as recorded in WTBM 80.?
Mick McCarthy had said on SKY before our televised game against Wolves that he was sorry if he had upset anyone by fielding their second team against Man U. But pundits, presenters, journalists, fans and Vital Burnley posters like me got drawn into heated discussion that has not finished yet. McCarthy himself, only a few hours later was uttering profanities, and within days was photographed ‘gesturing`.
Throwing in the towel at Old Trafford was a clear breach of Premier League rules. He has been asked to explain his action by the League bosses. The Wolves lawyers are mounting a robust PR defence ahead of what ought to be a hearing. Presumably SKY`s lawyers are meanwhile pointing out that they didn`t contract to put massive wealth into the League in exchange for its minnows to surrender to the big boys.
Was a precedent set by Liverpool making 9 changes against Fulham before a Champions League final? Will any club whose final League position this year can be considered to have been affected by ‘McCarthy`s choice` be studying the Blades` civil court victory over the Hammers? Will McCarthy be called to the FA on a disrepute charge? Will he be called to account by his peers for claiming there is more integrity in his little finger than that possessed by his critics, including a clearly displeased Arsene Wenger?
This one could go to penalties. I was pleased to see the editor of this fanzine match my Vital Burnley call for a 6-point deduction.
This is what WTBM editor Barnsey said in WTBM 79
“Ridiculous, Mick McCarthy. In the words of Kevin Keegan “he`s gone down in my estimations, I can tell you.” Maybe it`s understandable, but it is certainly unforgivable, and I hope that the PL interprets this as contravening the rule that says you must play a full-strength side, and docks them some points. If they fail to do this, they run the risk of the league becoming a farce.”
A bit of history
In 1961 Burnley were fined £1,000 for fielding a weakened team that drew 4-4 in a top flight fixture on the Turf against Chelsea. An FA Cup semi was coming up in 11 days, and a European Cup Quarter Final in Hamburg 3 days before that. We lost both.
What happened 49 years later?
This debacle all started when Mick McCarthy decided to ‘chuck-one-in` in a game last December when Wolves travelled to Old Trafford to play Manchester United. McCarthy made 10 changes to the side that had beaten Tottenham 1-0 in the previous game resting key players ahead of the match against Burnley.
McCarthy said at the time:
‘We had a great result at Spurs and every player rated it 9 to 9.5/10 in terms of how hard it was. I need to protect them. If you have another match of that magnitude, you can’t cope. We have big games coming.’
Wolves were then thumped 3-0 by United in front of a somewhat annoyed set of away fans that had paid good money to watch a bunch of reserves stand no chance of defeating the current Champions of the Premier League. Many of the 3,000 Wolves fans that had travelled to Old Trafford were now asking for their money back.
Burnley travelled to Molineux facing a completely rested and refreshed team with nine of those dropped players recalled to the side. Sadly for the Clarets, McCarthy`s decision seemed to be justified on the face of it in this vital six-pointer of a game. Wolves came out 2-0 winners but to be honest the Clarets had such a poor game that most probably any Wolves side would probably have beaten us that day.
This decision by McCarthy though had clearly upset many, not least the Wolves fans themselves although some may have changed their view after our defeat at Molineux. The PL was not happy either and asked McCarthy to justify his actions.
After deliberations the PL announced recently that that they had hit Wolves with a £25,000 fine but one that would be suspended.
McCarthy accepted the verdict calling it a ‘deterrent’, and said he would not make the same selection move again.
“Everyone else can have an opinion on it [the ruling]. Mine is, I’m absolutely glad it is done and dusted with,’ said the Wolves gaffer.
‘Will I change 10 players again? I think you will find it isn’t possible to do it.’ He added: ‘We’ll have to see if anyone else does it but, come on, it’s been put there as a deterrent. It has set a precedent and I’ve accepted it.’
The Premier League’s official statement on the incident read:
‘The Premier League Board has issued Wolverhampton Wanderers FC with a suspended £25,000 fine after deciding that the team fielded in their league fixture against Manchester United on 15 December 2009 was not full strength and therefore in breach of Rule E20. The board also deemed that the club had failed to fulfil its obligations to the league and other clubs in the utmost good faith and was therefore in breach of Rule B13.”
“The board considered submissions from Wolverhampton Wanderers FC and had sympathy for the explanation submitted by the club in relation to similar cases from previous seasons. However, the board ruled that this case could be differentiated from the other matches cited and that disciplinary action was warranted. The League’s E20 rule stipulates that clubs must field a full-strength side in all top-flight games. However, goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann was the only name on the Old Trafford team-sheet that had started the victory over Tottenham at White Hart Lane three days earlier.”
‘In coming to this decision the board also wants to put clubs on notice that any future rule breach of this nature would be subject to a disciplinary commission that would have available a full range of sanctions.’
Now here`s the funny bit!
One person who commented after the decision by the PL was Wolves striker, Kevin Doyle the scorer of Wolves second goal against the Clarets:
‘I’m surprised anything has come of it, to be honest,’ the Republic of Ireland international told BBC Radio 5 live. ‘They [the Premier League] are going to have to end up fining a lot of teams over the next few years, I think, if they are going to go about it that way. Are they going to start fining clubs for changing teams in the FA Cup, the League Cup, when they go from Champions League to the league? Bigger teams change their sides massively every week, so why is that any different for us?’
My advice would be don`t hire Kevin as your lawyer! He doesn`t even seem able to grasp that different competitions have different rules.
And here`s the official club spin
Wolves` chief executive, Jez Moxey said about the PL decision:
‘This ruling may now lead to a wider discussion regarding the issue of squad rotation and the Premier League’s rules. We look forward to fully participating in any such debate at future Premier League meetings. One thing that’s never been in question is the integrity of Mick McCarthy. He picked a team that, in his view, was in the best possible position to get a result in that particular game. He made it unselfishly and with the best interests of Wolves in mind.’
Er? Unselfishly AND with the best interests of Wolves in mind? How does that work? My advice is, don`t hire Jez Moxey either. He seems to completely fail to grasp the fact that competition rules are contracts entered into by clubs quite precisely to stop clubs acting solely in their own interests. Maybe Wolves should be cast adrift and forced to play friendlies for the rest of their days?
It gets worse
Mr McCarthy got a bit emotional under pressure from journalists at the time of his rile-breaking selection. Evidence for this can be found in an article written by Tony Barrett for Times Online.
“Is this the face of somebody who gives a flying f**k?” was McCarthy`s rhetorical response when pressed on whether his reasons for adopting such a strategy could be justified.”
An accompanying photo shows McCarthy giving the V and has the caption:
‘Wolverhampton Wanderers manager gestures on the touchline’.
In fairness to him, (Though why should I be fair to a convicted rule breaker?) it`s not clear whether the photo was from that time, or from The Times archive of McCarthy moments.
But no action seems to have been taken by the FA.
Compare the FA`s response to Gary Neville giving the one-fingered salute to former teammate Carlos Tevez in the first leg of the Carling semi, as reported in the www.bbc.co.uk story ‘Gary Neville and Carlos Tevez avoid FA punishment`.
Manchester United’s Gary Neville and Manchester City’s Carlos Tevez have escaped punishment by the Football Association, BBC Sport understands. Neville was under investigation for a one-fingered gesture that took place in United’s 2-1 loss to City on Tuesday. Tevez called former team-mate Neville a ‘boot-licker’ and a ‘moron’ for his comments about the Argentine before the Carling Cup semi-final first leg. However, both players have been warned about their future conduct by the FA. It is understood if the players were to be formally disciplined in future the FA reserves the right to refer to Neville’s conduct and Tevez’s words.
But apparently the FA thinks that managers should be allowed to get away with similar behaviour. But shouldn`t higher expectations of good behaviour be placed on managers than on players?
This is how they treat obscene gesturer`s up north
Barry Ferguson and Allan McGregor were punished following a late-night drinking session and V-sign gestures on the bench in April’s win over Iceland. Ferguson and McGregor were told they would not feature for Scotland.
So, what do you think?
Have Wolves and McCarthy got off lightly?
Do you question Mick McCarthy`s integrity?
Which PL clubs have a right to feel cheated by the now confessed and punished rule-breaker? Burnley because Wolves cheated to gain an advantage over them? Any other club that Wolves finishes 3 or less points above, because they cheated to gain an unfair advantage in the game over Burnley? Any club who finishes 3 or less points behind Man U, because Wolves gave Man U an unfair opportunity to gain those three points?
Do you think any clubs who end up in May having been disadvantaged by Wolves now unquestioned breaking of the PL rules will take Wolves to civil court? The Blades took the Hammers to civil court after the Hammers broke the rules? and won big money. This one could go to more penalties.