Deal or no deal?

Last updated : 06 May 2007 By Les Roberts
A statement issued by the Premier League stated that:"At the time of Tim Howard's permanent transfer from Manchester United to Everton, the Premier League ensured there were no agreements in place that contravened our rules.

"As a result of recent comments we had sought further clarification from both clubs and are satisfied that it remains the case that there were no agreements that breached any of our rules.

"Everton were free to play Tim Howard in their fixture against Manchester United had they so wished - and this has been confirmed by both clubs."

Which obviously begs the question, why did Howard not play in goal against his former employers?

And is is a serious question that will need quick answers from the club as his omission from the squad could quite feasibly have cost us our European place.

A look back at the official site's news archive simply states that Tim Howard was unavailable for the macth against Man United, but no reason was given and it was just assumed that it was part of the loan agreement.

But, given that we were reported to have signed him in February, the new theory to emerge was that we had only agreed to a deal with Man United and, as we were to pay for him once the transfer window re-opened in June, the terms of the original loan deal still stood.

Again, this proved not to be the case and the Premier League findings have shown that there was no such clause in the deal that did not permit Howard to play in the clash on April 28th and Everton were actually free to play him had they wished to.

But it appears clear that some sort of agreement must have been struck between Everton and United as there is no other reason why Howard would not have played in that match.

Any such clause or agreement that Howard couldn't play would clearly have contravened FA regulations but, with no evidence of any wrong-doing, the FA have had no option but to clear both clubs.

Which is obviously a huge relief to all parties concerned as a points deduction could have been disasterous for both teams and it would have put the FA in a bind given that West Ham escaped with only a fine over the Tevez debacle.

But, although both clubs have been cleared, their integrity has clearly been called into question.

If Howard had been injured then the official site and the associated press would have cited this as the reason for Iain Turner's recall.

But, with the lack of any reason given for Howard's omission, it appears that the club were happy for everyone to assume that he couldn't play due to the terms of his loan deal.

It will be interesting to see if the club do make an official statement regarding the matter or just whitewash it, particularly given the current end of season euphoria.

My money is definitely on the latter!