Subject: Middlesbrough In Court - Football Disaster
Date: Fri, 16 May 1997 13:46:09 +0100
From: Simon Gleave 

Remember the Bosman case and all of the ramifications that it has had for
football. Well, if Middlesbrough take the Premiership to court and win
then football will be dead in this country, if not further afield. This
could be far far more important for the future of football than the Bosman
case because a ruling in favour of Middlesbrough opens up all sorts of
cans of worms.

Let's take the current relegation situation. If Middlesbrough win then
presumably they regain their Premiership place. There seems to be no
alternative but to then have a 21 team league - how will all these games
be fitted in? There cannot be a 20 team league because Coventry could sue
for their place or the Div 1 play off winners could sue for theirs. Both
would have stronger cases than Middlesbrough's current case.

What happens after that? Every team will now be able to sue over anything
that has cost them a place in a league or cup. So, Leicester could sue the
FA over the penalty Chelsea were given, Chesterfield could sue over David
Elleray's refusal to allow a 3rd goal which looked like it had crossed the
line. Wolves could sue over Crystal palace's third 'offside' goal in last
Saturday's play-off match. The list would go on and on and on.

If Middlesbrough lose the FA Cup final, I fully expect them to go on and
sue the Premiership. They should think before doing so because although
they may get something in the short term, the long term will see football
die as a spectator sport. If money really is this important in our
national game then it simply won't be worth watching anymore.

Subject: Re: Middlesbrough In Court - Football Disaster
Date: Sat, 17 May 97 04:30:05 GMT
From: cmorris@ccnet.com (Colin Morris)

Ronald Hickey  wrote:
>You are totally correct, but they are unlikely to win in any case :-)

Not only is Shaggy correct, but also the trend to use the courts is already 
rolling. Don't forget that last season Stevenage Borough took the Football 
League to court having been denied promotion because their ground wasn't up to 
standard by the prescribed deadline. Stevenge lost in court, but had they won 
then the 3rd Division would also have been thrown into chaos. And just as 
Coventry would doubtless go to court if relegated in Middlesbrough's place,
so would Torquay have last year if Stevenage had convinced the court to 
promote them. It's a sad, but inevitable, trend given that there's so much 
money at stake in these decisions.

Subject: Re: Middlesbrough In Court - Football Disaster
Date: Tue, 20 May 1997 11:46:05 +0100
From: Steve Walker 

Steve Jones writes
>Steve Walker writes:
>> I am sure that 99% of all Boro fans couldn't care less what other people
>> think.
>Or about the future of football.

Oh, yeah - like supporters of any other club would be so altruistic if
their club were in that position.

>> We have been wronged, and should fight to get that corrected - as I am
>> sure *any* other club, *any* other fans would say if their club was in
>> that position - if they are honest about it.
>Stop being so bloody high and mighty.

You just told me we should be worrying "about the future of football"
instead of the good of our own club, and you are calling me "high and

>YOU called the match off

With roughly 30hrs notice, after consultation with the PL, who refused
to give either a clear "yes" or a clear "no".

>YOU had enough players to field a team.

Which would have lost heavily, gifted 3 points to Blackburn and incensed
*all* the other clubs caught up in the struggle at the foot of the
table.  Boro were in a no-win situation and chose what appeared to be
the lesser evil out of the available choices.

>YOU had an independent FA review which backed the leagues decision.

Independent?  With board members of Southampton and Everton (both at the
time also in danger of relegation) on the appeal panel?  Get real.

>YOU spent a fortune on players and still did worse than Leicester.

Yup - sometimes football is the loser, since we tried to play it and
Leicester only ever tried to stop it being played.  But they had little
choice, since they hadn't invested in players who were capable of
playing entertaining football.  If it is altruism you are looking for,
then "for the good of the game", no-one should applaud when teams who
play negatively succeed teams who try to play attacking, entertaining
football.  :)

>You haven't been wronged, you appealed to the highest FA court in the land
>and lost.

If we appealed to the highest *law* court in the land, and it was found
that those making the judgment had a vested interest in the outcome, we
would *still* have been wronged, and would be entitled to contest the
decision.  The FA appeal was a sham, for appearances only - it was just
one part of "the establishment" covering the back of a different
(equally incompetent) part.

Or are you *really* trying to suggest that Graham Kelly and co have the
remotest idea what they are talking about?

>Can you remember what Swindon did after being denied a place in the top
>flight ?  yes thats right, they got off their fat arses and won the
>place AGAIN.

But they were 100% entitled to feel wronged, given the way that the FA
had capitulated to Spurs, and rescinded *all* of their points penalty
and re-instated them in the FA cup.  If the FA cup were able to behave
with any consistency at all, I wouldn't be so convinced of their
incompetence, self-serving attitude and probable corruption.

Subject: Re: Middlesbrough In Court - Football Disaster
Date: 20 May 1997 15:44:57 +0200
From: Steve Jones - JON 

Steve Walker writes:
> With roughly 30hrs notice, after consultation with the PL, who refused
> to give either a clear "yes" or a clear "no".

Sounds like Micheal Howard in the commons who "didn't give an order" but
the fact is Gibson should have got down on paper that it was Okay. The
PL didn't say "YES" therefore they didn't say "YES".  Too much was at
stake to not be sure or to have _something_ in writing.


Spurs didn't get all the points back they got 6 from 12 back, and easily
avoided the drop.  IIRC even 12 points wouldn't have seen them down.
They shouldn't have (IMO) given Spurs the points back.  Arsenal didn't
moan about the deduction of 2 points when it could have cost them the title,
there was no talk of court cases, they got on with the job and won the

What I am convinced of is the incompetence of Steve Gibson, how the
hell did this guy make his money and not learn to get it down on paper,
and that not saying "yes" should always be taken as a "no"

Boro called the match off because they thought it would benifit themselves.

Subject: Re: Middlesbrough In Court - Football Disaster
Date: 20 May 1997 10:59:36 +0200
From: Steve Jones - JON 

Steve Walker writes: 
> Players weren't only injured.  A large number had a virus, leaving us
> with only 17 players available, 3 of whom were goalies and almost all of
> the others had no reserve team experience, never mind 1st team.

ALMOST ALL!  I think it was actually 5 (maybe 6 players) who could have
been given first time appearences.  So of a squad of 14 players only
two of these would have had to have played. There is also a very large
thing called the "loan list", many clubs use this to fill in blanks in
the team sheet when they have problems.  Why didn't Boro ?
> Blackburn were deeply involved in the relegation battle at the time.  If
> we had played a team of kids/keepers against Blackburn, then we would
> have been crucified for that as well.  All the teams who said the points
> deduction was right would have been screaming blue murder about us
> gifting 3 easy points to Blackburn.

The other side is.

Boro were playing shite and loosing.
Blackburn were on a winning streak and playing very well.

Boro call off the match. 

> None of them, or their supporters, should now feel in a position to
> criticise if Boro decide to defend their own self-interest by going to
> court.

Bollocks, Boro are trying to do something that hasn't been done before,
resorting to the courts.  The League said 3 points, and independent 
commitee said 3 points.  If Boro win in court then what? Appeal against
calls the ref makes ? Appeal against player suspensions?
> We were wronged, and are entitled to fight to get it put right (not that
> it ever can be, since "relegation" had a massive effect on our chances
> in the FA cup final).

Players like Emerson "can't be arsed" and Rav "can't score in the League"
are the reason that Boro got relegated.  Boro were NOT wronged, they called
off a game, they didn't even have the common bloody politness to phone
Blackburn to tell them why and apologise.

To be honest I hope that the League throw the book at Boro for taking them
to court.  Football governs itself, if you don't like that, start your own

Subject: Re: Middlesbrough In Court - Football Disaster
Date: Tue, 20 May 1997 12:32:22 +0100
From: Steve Walker 

I don't have the list of available players in front of me, but working
from memory, we had (apart from the 3 keepers), 2 first team players.
Out of the other available outfield players, only 2 even had *reserve*
experience - and they had 3 (possibly 4) reserve games between them.

The others were *youth* team players on YTS contracts, who had *never*
even featured in the reserves.

If we had fielded such a team, we would have been accused by the other
relegation battlers of gifting points to opposition also involved in the

>Boro were playing shite and loosing.
>Blackburn were on a winning streak and playing very well.

No argument.  I don't suppose for a moment that Boro didn't hope also to
benefit from the decision, but they were led by a PL official to believe
that the decision would be approved.

Boro were risking punishment whether they played or they didn't.  Be
honest - if you had a choice of 2 courses of action, both of which
risked punishment but one of which may benefit yourself *and* the other
teams, while the other would penalise yourself and all the other teams
but one, what would *you* do?

>The League said 3 points, and independent commitee said 3 points. [snip]

There was no independent appeal.  The FA panel - on top of the
likelihood of them merely wanting to support "the Establishment" -
contained representatives of other clubs (Soton and Everton) who would
benefit from the penalty being confirmed.

Independent?  Don't make me laugh.  Our only chance of an independent
review *is* to take it to court.

>they didn't even have the common bloody politness to phone
>Blackburn to tell them why and apologise.

Get your facts straight.  The PL *told* Boro not to phone Blackburn -
they would do it.  I don't know if they did or not, but the postponement
was known to everyone some time on the Friday, so everyone had notice of
what was happening.

Unlike the Blackburn game that was postponed at no notice because some
idiot had left the sprinklers on overnight and flooded the pitch.  Were
they punished for that?  No.

Subject: Re: Middlesbrough In Court - Football Disaster
Date: 20 May 1997 15:28:39 +0200
From: Steve Jones - JON 

Steve Walker writes: 
> Don't be ridiculous.  The FA appeal panel, AIUI, contained board members
> of Southampton and Everton, neither of whom could exactly be said to be
> impartial and disinterested in the outcome, since they were both in
> relegation danger at the time.

It also contained boardmembers from the likes of Villa and ManU, the verdict
wasn't a split 50/50 but 100% AGAINST Boro.

> The FA appeal was a sham, a foregone conclusion all along, which started
> without the remotest intention of rescinding the penalty - whatever
> evidence/case Boro presented.

Most cases where people are in the wrong are a foregone conclusion.  This
is what being guilty is meant to bring about.

Of course when you hopefully loose in court you'll still be claiming
you were robbed and you'll take it to the court of Appeal, then the Lords,
then the European Court of Justice.

At what point will you admit that Gibson and Robson made a huge cockup and
are responsible for your demise ?

Subject: Middlesbrough in Court - Football Disaster
Date: Mon, 19 May 1997 16:12:30 +0100
From: Simon Gleave 

Well, some interesting debate on this one and one or two things have come
up that I hadn't thought of - in particular the discussion on the
harshness of the penalty and the fact that the PL will not deduct points
if it happens in future. Assuming this is true, it sheds a slightly
different light on the matter but doesn't change the fact that
Middlesbrough would still be wrong to take the FA/PL to court over the
matter. Incidentally, if the PL is now saying the game will simply be
forfeited, Middlesbrough fans are conveniently forgetting that Gibson
vehemently argued against the forfeiting of the match when the case came
up in the first place.

What staggers me is that Middlesbrough fans don't blame Gibson or Robson
for their demise. The club has known for some time that they had this
penalty and what did they do about it? Buy one Australian goalkeeper (who
promptly got injured) and sold a perfectly good goalkeeper to West Brom
which almost left them keeperless when an injury crisis took hold.

The Boro management seemingly did nothing about Emerson's poor form,
Ravanelli's outbursts or the appalling defending of the team. Where was
the cover for the top players if injury came along?

I think it's time for Middlesbrough fans to look at the real problem and
stop whingeing that they've been cheated. Brighton were penalised two
points and they stayed up against far greater odds. Oh, and before anyone
talks about the two cup final appearances being a success, I would just
like to say that the FA Cup final appearance followed possibly the easiest
run of cup ties that any finalist has ever had - Derby were the only
Premiership team that had to be beaten along the way and the vast majority
of ties were againt lower division/non league opposition. A nice contrast
is with Crystal Palace who reached both semis two years ago.
Middlesbrough's semi final opponents were Stockport and Chesterfield,
Palace's were Liverpool and Manchester Utd.

Subject: Middlesbrough - Would they get what they want?
Date: Wed, 21 May 1997 14:51:34 +0100
From: Simon Gleave 

OK, after all the debate on this subject, I'd like to address one very
important point. Middlesbrough fans (and presumably Steve Gibson) want
their points reinstated and their plce in the Premiership given back to
them if a court ruled that the PL was wrong. A number of people have
discussed the ridiculous situation of a 21 team Premiership or Coventry
being relegated instead. However, one thing that noone has mentioned is
the following:

Middlesbrough had their points deducted in (I think) January.
Consequently, every team in the relegation struggle has been playing to
gain a certain number of points to avoid being relegated under the
assumption that Middlesbrough have a 3 point deduction.

There is no guarantee that Middlesbrough would have stayed up if this
deduction hadn't taken place. Coventry may have beaten Derby the week
before their win over Spurs. Other teams may have won other matches
knowing that Middlesbrough had a certain number of points. There is no way
of knowing what might have happened. So, I really can't see how a court
could rule that Middlesbrough get their Premiership place back.

One other thing - presumably the action of taking the FA to court is
'bringing the game into disrepute'. What action is open to the FA if this
is the case?

As you can guess from my postings, I have no sympathy for Middlesbrough FC
(as I believe is the case with most football fans). If this situation
happened to my club, I would be in up in arms about it but it would be the
chairman who my anger would be vented upon for allowing this to happen.
The money that Middlesbrough have spent should have left them safe even
with the deduction so Bryan Robson should also take a share of the blame.

It's all sour grapes now because relegation has taken place but the team
had four months to get themselves out of trouble and couldn't manage it.
If the points deduction was so unfair, why didn't Middlesbrough go to
court straight away?


[In the end, Middlesbrough decided not to take the case to court.]