Fri, Aug 24, 2007 - Page 22 News List

Benitez slams Premier League

ANGRY TIRADE It is the decision not to allow Gabriel Heinze to leave Manchester United, stopping Liverpool buying the defender, that has upset Rafael Benitez most

AFP , LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez launched an astonishing attack on the English Premier League on Wednesday, laying into the organization in a wide-ranging blast.

The Spanish boss, angered by a league hearing decision which blocked Argentina left-back Gabriel Heinze's move from champions Manchester United to the Reds, blasted the Premier League over the saga, and Liverpool's fixture schedule.

Heinze believed he had a letter which would allowed him to leave Old Trafford once United's ?6.8 million (US$13.5 million) valuation had been met.

But a three-member Premier League panel ruled the letter did not constitute consent for Heinze to leave and the player is now on his way to Real Madrid.

Benitez believes the setback is just one of several decisions being taken in favor of the Reds' title rivals United.

"I would like to ask the Premier League a number of questions. How can a player with a signed agreement be treated like this?" he told the Liverpool Echo daily newspaper. "He has a document which is clear, but the Premier League prefers to believe the word of someone else who made a mistake. I know there were accusations made against Liverpool in the hearing which were unbelievable. How can this be allowed?"

And broadening his attack, Benitez said: "Then I would like to ask the Premier League why is it that Liverpool always play the most fixtures away from home in an early kick-off, following an international break?"

"We had more than the top clubs last season and we have four already to prepare for this season," he said. "Then I want to ask the Premier League why it was so difficult for Liverpool to sign Javier Mascherano, when we had to wait a long time for the paperwork, but it was so easy for Carlos Tevez to join Manchester United?"

Argentina central midfielder Mascherano joined Liverpool from West Ham United in the January transfer window and the deal took weeks to clear as the row over third party ownership of players at Upton Park raged on.

The Tevez move from West Ham to Manchester United took less time to approve, with the Argentina striker's representatives paying the Hammers ?2 million to release his registration in time to beat the transfer deadline.

"It's going to be very difficult for us to win the Premier League because the other teams are so strong, but I want our supporters to know that despite the disadvantages we have, we will fight all the way," Benitez said. "We will fight to cope with our more difficult kick-off times and all the other decisions which are going against us."

But it is the Heinze decision, stopping Liverpool buying the defender who believed he had a letter clearing his exit for a set sum, that has upset Benitez most.

He now must consider contingency plans as Manchester United yesterday agreed to sell the Argentine defender to Real Madrid.

League chiefs are disappointed by Benitez's outburst.

"The Premier League tried to make sure that our dealings with all our member clubs, including the scheduling of fixtures, are as fair as possible," a spokesman said. "We are disappointed to read Rafael Benitez's comments in the press, especially when channels exist for every member club to raise any issues directly with the league."

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