DWS enters arbitration for Sheff Utd v West Ham

Denton Wilde Sapte (DWS) is representing Sheffield United FC in arbitration proceedings against West Ham United FC over Argentine star Carlos Tevez.

The DWS team acting for Sheffield is led by litigation partner John Rosenheim and arbitration specialist Paul Stothard, instructing Ian Mill QC of Blackstone Chambers.

Stothard said: “Sheffield United is a member of the FA [Football Association] and is bound by FA rules, which require clubs to go to arbitration rather than court. But let’s be clear about what arbitration means: it’s not an informal process administered by the FA, it’s a process recognised by law, and no different from any other commercial arbitration.”

Sheffield United is claiming damages for breach of contract by West Ham, arguing that West Ham acted dishonestly in registering Tevez and fellow player Javier Mascherano in that it failed to reveal that the players were owned by a third party. Sheffield United claims the FA would not have registered the players had it known this.

The club argues that the players, in particular Tevez, played a key role in helping West Ham’s performance over the season, giving West Ham an unfair advantage not enjoyed by Sheffield, which was subsequently relegated from the league.

Stothard added that Sheffield United would be looking for damages of £30m to £50m, based on considerations including the lower income the club receives in the Championship than it did in the Premiership, and the reduced contractual value of its players post-relegation.

Travers Smith is acting for West Ham, led by dispute resolution partner John Kingston. The firm will instruct Jim Sturman QC of 2 Bedford Row and Paul Harris of Monckton Chambers.

A Travers Smith spokesman said: “This is early days, but we will be looking at this claim carefully and be responding in due course.”