Update: Premier League confident that reported legal challenge from Norwich City cannot bring Sunderland a points deduction

Norwich City are one of three Premier League relegation rivals to have reportedly sought legal advice to challenge Sunderland's punishment for fielding an ineligible player earlier this season. 
Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd Norwich City are one of three Premier League relegation rivals to have reportedly sought legal advice to challenge Sunderland's punishment for fielding an ineligible player earlier this season. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Sunday, May 4, 2014
4:02 PM

The Premier League are reportedly confident that Sunderland will not face a points deduction in the continuing row over fielding Ji Dong-won with incomplete registration, after it emerged that Norwich City, Fulham and Cardiff City had sought legal advice over the decision to fine Sunderland for the breach, rather than deduct points.

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News broke last night that the Canaries were one of three clubs considering contesting the decision from earlier this season – which could have serious repercussions in the Premier League’ relegation dog fight.

Today’s Observer claims Norwich – along with Cardiff and Fulham, the two clubs relegated on Saturday following Sunderland’s 1-0 win at Manchester United – are prepared to initiate legal proceedings regarding the fine imposed by the Premier League on the Black Cats for fielding Ji Dong-won in four league games earlier this season.

The Observer report Norwich and Cardiff have enlisted Fulham’s support to challenge the ruling, with a legal letter sent on behalf of the three clubs arguing that the offence was serious enough to merit a points deduction.

However Press Association Sport is this afternoon reporting that the Premier League is confident any issues regarding Sunderland striker Ji’s incomplete registration were resolved as soon as they were uncovered.

Gaps in the 22-year-old’s paperwork were highlighted following a routine drugs test, and the Premier League and Sunderland resolved the issues as a result.

The report states that the Premier League ‘remains comfortable’ with the punishment handed out to Sunderland, and is not thought to believe any legal challenge can be mounted against the decision.

Sunderland forward Ji was correctly registered on arrival at the club in 2011, but issues arose after a loan spell with German club Augsburg.

Despite always being correctly registered with the Premier League and the Football Association, Ji’s name was missed off a list of Sunderland players sent to world governing body FIFA for doping purposes.

Sunderland are thought to have reported this issue to the Premier League as soon as it was brought to their attention.

Press Association Sport understands the Premier League’s investigation found that an online form had not been properly submitted to FIFA.

Sunderland are thought to have told the Premier League they submitted the form, but that a technical fault caused it never to reach FIFA correctly.

The Premier League board is understood to have determined that the technical nature of the oversight merited the fine meted out.

Norwich take on Chelsea at 4pm this afternoon, starting three points adrift of the Wearsiders with just two league games to go.

Sunderland will guarantee their survival with home wins against West Brom and Swansea City in their remaining fixtures this coming week, irrespective of what Neil Adams’ squad do at Stamford Bridge or against Arsenal in their final fixture next weekend.

AFC Wimbledon were recently docked three points by the football authorities for fielding an ineligible player, which had no adverse bearing on the Dons’ League Two status, but the Observer state lawyers for Norwich, Cardiff and Fulham have drawn up a list of cases where clubs have lost points in similar situations.

The huge financial cost of dropping out of the Premier League has prompted the trio to press for a review of the original verdict. Ji played in a 1-1 draw against Southampton and league defeats to Fulham, Crystal Palace and Manchester United without the required international clearance because of a previous loan spell in German football at Augsburg.

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