From 4th To 9th Without Playing A Game?

Conspiracy theorists who were around in 1986 might just be starting to feel a little bit of deja vu as Hammers begin their final run in of the Barclays Premier League season. For those too young to remember, or those who weren't even born then, here is a brief resume˘of what occurred.

Believe it or not West Ham were top of what was the old first division, ahead of both Liverpool and Everton, the season was already unique in that there were NO broadcasts of any top flight games due to an impasse in the negotiations between the FA and the Television companies over broadcasting rights and revenues.

As the season drew to a close there were many fixtures that were back logged due to the fact that there had been a very harsh winter, as a result of which, the schedule dictated West Ham had to play three games in six days, which was bad enough, but worse was to come in the form of a 'happy clapper' agreement between the Mersey side clubs that saw them draw when they needed to, in order to ensure Hammers were unable to retain their top slot.

Had football been televised that season, such rescheduling would have been brought in to question, but as the owners of Liverpool at the time, the Vernon family, were also incredibly well connected with the powers that be at the FA, the situation was glazed over without so much as a whimper from the Irons hierarchy at the time, rumour has it that certain shares changed hands between the Cairns family and the Vernons around then, members of staff at the Boleyn who questioned what had gone on were summarily dismissed.

Yes the current fixture list looks further distorted by need to play the outstanding FA Cup fixtures, and the International break. In May the boot will be firmly on the other foot as West Ham have to play a series of 'catch up' games in a very short period, like most mangers, David Moyes would have preferred to have the games evenly dispersed, but alas it is not to be.

Perhaps dropping out of the top four won't be a particularly bad event, it would enable Hammers to sneak under the radar again, and maybe teams will start to underestimate what they are going to be up against in the final dozen games of the season again.

There is nothing fans, players or staff can do to stop other results from happening, it is to be hoped by the time Hammers play their next game, which is at home to Leeds next Monday night, that they will be closer to 4th than 9th in the Barclays Premier League table. - Ed

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