• Premier League

Clubs join forces to push for Sunderland points deduction

ESPN staff
May 4, 2014
Ji Dong-won played in four matches for Sunderland © PA Photos

Cardiff City, Fulham and Norwich City are set to join forces for a legal battle to fight the Premier League's decision not to dock Sunderland points for fielding an ineligible player.

The Observer claims the three clubs will collaborate and challenge the Premier League's decision to let Sunderland off with a six-figure fine after they played Ji Dong-won in four games over a seven-week period. A legal letter has been sent to the league which states the offence is serious enough to warrant more than just a fine.

Sunderland beat Manchester United on Saturday to continue a remarkable spell of form which has seen them claim 10 points from a possible 12. Their win at Old Trafford condemned Fulham and Cardiff to Championship football next season, while Norwich lie in 18th and trail Gus Poyet's side by three points.

However, the trio argue Sunderland's case has been treated as a one-off and have called for a review into the case. The club was only given a fine, although the three clubs are preparing to dispute that previous cases throughout the leagues saw other clubs in a similar position handed a points deduction.

League Two side AFC Wimbledon were recently docked points for fielding an ineligible player, while Conference team Alfreton were docked three points for the same offence in March.

The newspaper claims the letter sent by the three clubs demands a full explanation as to why the Sunderland case was kept quiet and also states another team could suffer relegation due to the leniency of the rules.

Ji featured in the 1-1 draw with Southampton, as well as the three defeats against Manchester United, Fulham and Crystal Palace. The league reportedly considered the decision based on the factor that Sunderland had only gained one point from the four games and the club had also brought to light the error they made as quickly as they could.

Rule 6.9 of the FA's relevant law says "any club found to have played an ineligible player in a match shall have any points gained from that match deducted from its record" and also adds "the board … may also levy penalty points against the club in default."

In April, Poyet admitted he would have understood had the authorities decided to dock the club points.

"I'm not saying we should have been docked points, but I would understand if we had," said Poyet. "It's incredible. The rules should be clear. It should be one rule. The words 'may' or 'might' in the rules in England, they are unbelievable. They give you a chance to do whatever you like. It shouldn't be may or might. It should be the rule. Yes or no. Then there is no grey area."

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