Skirge Posted April 20, 2007 Share Posted April 20, 2007 Premier chief backs Freddie Apr 20 2007 By Paul Gilder, The Journal Freddie Shepherd will pursue his compensation claim against the Football Association with the Premier League's backing after Sir Dave Richards insisted Newcastle's chairman is within his rights to seek legal redress as the Michael Owen dispute rumbles on. The £17m striker has moved closer to his long-awaited comeback in recent days, but there has been no such progress behind the scenes as United officials continue to seek recompense for the career-threatening knee problem that has sidelined Owen for the last 10 months. Shepherd has threatened to prevent the 27-year-old from playing for England this summer unless the FA offer a fair settlement in regard to the medical bills that have cost the club more than £150,000. And, although it would be a drastic step to seek an injunction from the courts to ensure that Steve McClaren is unable to select Owen for international action, Shepherd can count on some powerful allies for support in what promises to be a test case that could change football forever. As the Premier League's long-serving chairman, Richards is among the English game's most influential figures. That he is sympathetic towards Newcastle's cause could be significant in ending the impasse. "I think Freddie Shepherd is very, very justified in asking for certain things," he said during an appearance in the North-East to help promote the Barclays Spaces for Sport initiative. "Mr Shepherd and Newcastle are amongst our members and they have the support of the Premier League. "I can stand here and ask who has suffered because of this. Michael Owen has suffered. But Newcastle United have as well because they have not had his services and someone has to pay for that. "I think Mr Shepherd is quite justified in having his say, and saying `This is what we have got to do'. It's a shame that football has got itself into a position where it is difficult for the FA and Newcastle to get together and sort this out outside the media. But Mr Shepherd has a right to say what he's said." Although Owen was injured while playing for England during last summer's World Cup finals, it is Newcastle who have picked up the bills having sent their record signing to the United States for a career-saving operation. Shepherd, who is also seeking compensation from Fifa having rejected a £1m settlement offer, this week criticised the FA for abdicating their responsibilities towards the player. Having insisted that United have not even received `the price of an aspirin', the St James's Park supremo said unless an agreement can be reached, Owen will be prevented from featuring in England's critical European Championship qualifier against Estonia in June. All parties will hope the matter can be resolved without the need for such action but neither side looks like budging. As an FA board member, Richards is in an awkward position and he knows the consequences could be far-reaching. "I think it's a real test case and it's something that needs to be sorted out in the game," he said. "We have rules and we have regulations and when you join in this sort of thing and you allow players to go (on international duty), you fulfil those obligations and say `Yes, we understand what we are getting into. But over the years, things have changed, and I think we should re-address it, look at it, and lay down some new formulas for how things ought to be done regarding international players and their release." Although an important issue, Newcastle's supporters are more interested in when Owen will next be seen in a black-and-white shirt. Glenn Roeder last night claimed the striker was `50-50' for Sunday's match against Chelsea, although Owen last night admitted such a scenario is unlikely. "We play Chelsea on Sunday, but I'm just feeling the effects of doing so much work and I have got a bit of a tight groin at the minute," he said. "I'm looking at the game after that (at Reading on April 30) to be making my return. It has been frustrating, but when you play at the highest level, you are open to these big injuries. The rehab has gone perfectly well. I played in a behind-closed-doors game and everything has gone well." Link to post Share on other sites More sharing options...
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