The Howard Mess
Tim Howard did not play against us because Everton adhered to a gentleman's agreement but David Gill almost made a blunder.
The case of the Tim Howard deal just does not peter out. The League is accused of double standards as United and Everton escaped any kind of punishment while the clubs insist that the lack of a written agreement means there was no breach of rules.
As you may know, Tim Howard's loan deal was made permanent by Everton in February. The loan deal, of course, prevented him from playing against us but such clauses are irregular in the case of permanent deals. The papers revealed that despite this rule, David Gill had kept on insisting that such a clause should be included in the agreement but Richard Scudamore, chief executive of the Premier League talked him out of it.
The club, in response to all the articles, issued a statement today, admitting they, in agreement with Everton, had wanted such a clause in the deal. Their stance is that since the loan deal would have prevented Howard from playing in April 28, nothing would have changed if he had not been allowed to play after making his move to permanent. The statement stressed that both clubs had agreed on that such a clause would not endanger the integrity of the competition but the Premier League refused to allow it inserted into the contract.
Thus denied, the clubs had a gentleman's agreement and both argued that no material repercussions could have taken place had Moyes decided to field Howard, against the agreement. That argument was accepted by the league but those who smell injustice say it's just the kind of third party influence than in the case of Tevez and Mascherano which saw West Ham fined for 5.5 million pounds.
Now really, it's clear that Everton had no obligation to do our wish. They would have risked only the good relations between the clubs if they had fielded Howard so I don't see it being a crime. As for Turner making a decisive mistake - I hope that at least United fans remember that Howard was capable of committing such blunders, too! Mourinho surely did not forget the American's most spectacular one.
And for those who would like to read the full statement, it's here:
As a result of media articles this morning, the Club feels that its position in the transfer of Tim Howard has been misrepresented.
At no point did either Club set out to break FAPL rules. The transfer of Tim Howard, who was then on a season-long loan to Everton, reflected Everton's desire to acquire the player, the player's wish to secure his long-term future and Manchester United's willingness to sell him. In drafting the transfer agreement with Everton's approval, the Club inserted a clause acknowledging that Tim Howard would not be available for selection against United.
It remains both Clubs' position that such a deal could not be a 'material influence' on the integrity of the 2006/07 FAPL season if it reflects no change to the situation as it existed at the time. Before the deal, Tim Howard was not able to play against Manchester United. After the deal, the same would have been true. It therefore would have had no effect on the integrity of the competition whatsoever.
The FAPL rejected the inclusion of this in the contract.