‘Weakened teams’ rule clarified
The Premier League has confirmed that top-flight clubs will be allowed to rest players if they have a number of games in quick succession after West Ham demanded a clarification of the rules about fielding a “weakened” side.
The issue has been a contentious one, with the Hammers claiming earlier this month that Fulham fielded an under-strength side in their 2-0 defeat to Hull, four days before the Cottagers played Wolfsburg in the Europa League quarter-final first leg.
At the time, West Ham were fighting it out with Hull for Premier League survival and the Hammers felt that the result could have affected the outcome of the relegation battle.
Wolves were given a suspended fine earlier this season for fielding a weakened side against Manchester United at Old Trafford but Fulham were not punished, leading West Ham to demand clarification on the issue.
The Premier League has confirmed that neither Fulham or their boss Roy Hodgson will be reprimanded, and informed Hammers co-owner David Sullivan that clubs are permitted to rest players if they have had a number of games in quick succession.
“Even if our complaint was not upheld, we are extremely pleased the rule has been clarified and we know now the position,” Sullivan told Soccernet. “We all now know that if players have had a number of quick games its now accepted that they can be rested.”
“‘By merely ruling in favour of Fulham, who rested nine players, it is clear you can rest players if you want to. On TV their manager, Roy Hodgson, said he was resting them. So by ruling in Fulhams favour, they accept the concept that players can be rested in large numbers.”
Fulham meet West Ham this weekend and ironically, Gianfranco Zola’s side will likely benefit from the Cottagers’ Europa League exploits, with more changes expected after their semi-final second leg clash with Hamburg on Thursday.
Although Fulham are still suing West Ham over the Carlos Tevez affair, and chairman Mohamed Al-Fayed said earlier this month: “I stick two fingers up to West Ham,” Sullivan insists relations between the clubs are improving.
Sullivan said: “We wish Fulham all the best on Thursday as they are a club we greatly admire for their achievements this season and their manager and chairman are really lovely people.”