The manager and players of a former English Premier League football club Sheffield United plan to sue the team they feel caused their relegation from England's top division by fielding Argentina striker Carlos Tevez.
|Neil Warnock and other Sheffield United players may seek further compensation [GALLO/GETTY]
Tevez, who scored seven goals for former club West Ham in the last 10 games of the 2006-07 season, netted in the team's final game to ensure that the London club moved ahead of Sheffield United in the standings.
Sheffield United reached an out-of-court settlement with West Ham on Monday that seemed to have resolved the long-running dispute, with the Hammers agreeing to pay a staggered compensation package of about $30 million.
However, about 20 unnamed players are now looking into recovering the bonuses and image rights they would have received by keeping the club in the top flight.
Those claims would amount to about $7 million.
Lawyer Chris Farnell, who is acting on behalf of the players, was in correspondence with West Ham's legal team last week and wants a response by the end of this week.
"We are waiting to hear back from the lawyer at West Ham and depending on what they have to say will dictate the next course of action,'' Farnell told The Associated Press on Tuesday.
"I will be meeting with the majority of players, and speaking to all of the players concerned individually, before the end of this week with a view to continuing this matter.''
If West Ham doesn't respond, "they will leave us with no other option but to pursue the matter formally, most likely through arbitration,'' Farnell said.
West Ham said it has received "no formal legal claims'' from the players or former Sheffield United manager Neil Warnock, who also said he could pursue a personal compensation claim.
"I'll be looking into this now. I just wanted to see the club's case out of the way first,'' said Warnock, who is now the manager at Crystal Palace.
"As far as I'm concerned, I should still be a Premier League manager. And I think the players have a case, too.''
West Ham, though, said there is "no basis for claims being brought outside of the arbitration process.''
"However, it is now becoming clear that the ruling by Lord Griffiths has encouraged a potentially endless legal chain of claims and counter claims, which can only be damaging to English football,'' the club in a statement.
"As a club we will strongly resist any attempts to prolong this matter through the courts both to protect our interests and those of the wider game.''
Sheffield United was relegated at the end of the 2007 season when the Hammers beat Manchester United on the final day of the campaign and Tevez scored the decisive goal.
However, the Premier League later fined West Ham after ruling that Tevez and Javier Mascherano should not have been eligible to play for the club under third-party ownership rules.
The Blades said they lost more than $29 million in TV revenue, merchandising and bonuses for being relegated.
Although Tevez and Mascherano moved to West Ham from Brazilian club Corinthians, their contracts were owned by Media Sports Investments.
Tevez later moved on loan to Manchester United and Mascherano to Liverpool.
Warnock said Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore should resign over the saga.
"You work your butt off to keep a team in the Premier League to find out somebody's taken it away by default,'' Warnock said.
"Too right I'm bitter. I think Scudamore's a disgrace. How he's kept his job I will never know.
"If that was a bigger club than Sheffield United, there would have been heads rolled. He would have been one of them, if not the first. I'm bitter he's kept his job and I've had to give up mine.''