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More twists to come in Tevez affair

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Mihir Bose | 17:19 UK time, Monday, 14 May 2007

Sometime in the next few weeks West Ham will be holding talks with Carlos Tevez about his contract. It may lead to Tevez moving on. The talks will also involve his advisors and this will mean talking to Kia Joorabchian, of MSI.

This is the same company which owned the exclusive economic rights to Tevez, they held the contract that was torn up by West Ham in order to make sure Tevez continued to play for the club, a decision crucial to West Ham saving themselves. And a decision which is now the subject of legal threats by four clubs, including Sheffield United who went down instead of West Ham.

Confused? You are not alone.

The Tevez affair is well on its way to being a classic case of a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma, as Winston Churchill once described Russia.

The problem is that the arrival of Tevez and Javier Mascherano introduced into English football an element which is not much known - although it is quite common on the continent and South America.

Carlos Tevez's brilliant end-of-season form kept West Ham in the Premiership

That new element is players’ contracts being owned by a third party.

We all know what usually happens when a player moves from one club to another. The buying club pays the selling club a fee.

There is also a second contract between the player and the club regarding personal terms, the sort of terms that might allow a player to buy a couple of baby Bentleys if he so fancied it.

However, with the move of Tevez and Mascherano to West Ham there was a third contract. With a third party.

The contract specified who could move Tevez from West Ham and benefit financially from it, and it was between West Ham and MSI, although another company called Just Sports Inc was also involved.

In a normal transfer the club that owns the registration decides whether a player moves and for how much. In this case it was the third party, led by MSI, which would decide – and that is what has caused West Ham the problems that have dogged the club these last few months.

As West Ham’s own lawyer put it to the Premier League Commission that looked into this affair, there was a complete restriction preventing either Tevez or the club terminating the contract.

Another clause of this agreement could also force the player to agree to a transfer at the third party’s insistence, to any club, and under terms agreed by MSI and Just Sports without any right of objection by Tevez. If these clauses were violated, MSI could impose penalties on West Ham and Tevez.

West Ham’s lawyer told the commission these clauses were unenforceable, and the commission told West Ham to tear up the contract.

West Ham say they have done so and the Premier League is satisfied this is indeed the case. But four other clubs are not and want proof.

The Premier League wrote to those clubs on Monday clarifying certain issues. But it still refuses to give them details of the contract as it says it cannot release confidential contracts between clubs and third parties.

Meanwhile, Liverpool - whose decision to move for Mascherano in January first ignited the West Ham affair by bringing these contracts to the attention of the Premier League - have nothing to worry about. They renegotiated Mascherano’s contracts to the satisfaction of the Premier League and everybody else.

So far, despite being at the heart of the controversy, MSI has not said anything. But if it sues West Ham for breach of contract, which is not altogether unlikely, then what happens? This whole mess will get more complicated still.

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