Let me to take you back to August 2006, which appeared to be quite a standard transfer window.
I was at work and doing all I can to keep up with the latest transfers on Sky Sports News. I can still remember what I was doing when I read Argentinian Superstars heading to London, and thinking: Could it be us?
My brain told me not to be so stupid as it was obviously going to be Arsenal, Chelsea or Spurs making this exciting double swoop.
But then there it was in bold writing on the famous yellow ticker tape: ‘West Ham complete sensational Argentine double swoop’.
After that initial excitement wore off the questions started to naturally form in my head: How have we pulled off this deal?, Why did they join us?, and Why had no one reported this deal in the lead up?
It then started to emerge that a third party had to be added to the story – quite literally – in the shape of Iranian businessman Kiavash Joorabchian.
Joorabchian was the founder of Media Sports Investment who, according to the company’s now defunct website, were ‘a London based international investment fund’.
In 2004 MSI purchased a controlling 51 percent stake in Brazilian club Corinthians across 10 years, leading to an influx of players such as ex-Porto midfielder Carlos Alberto, Tevez and Mascherano.
MSI invested funds into the club to cover debts accrued by Timão while also purchasing direct stakes in players allowing them to retain financial interest in the likes of Tevez’s career paths.
Kia was also one of the main potential new buyers for the club after the current chairman, Terrance Brown, had announced that he was prepared to sell. He had already seen a bid for the club rejected in November 2005 and was preparing to make another move.
As the season went on the confusion around the deal started to overshadow the whole affair and both Tevez and Mascherano struggled to make any impact on the pitch.
Mascherano was famously kept out of the side by Hayden Mullins. This led him to seek a move away and Liverpool became very interested which complicated the matter even further.
Questions started to be asked again as to who Liverpool would be buying the player off, it started to become very clear that the twist in the tale was that Tevez and Mascherano weren’t just former Corinthians players; they also had their rights owned by a third party – Media Sports Investments.
This development was soon discovered by the Premier League, after which pandemonium broke loose.
Mascherano did get his move to Liverpool but Tevez went onto stick around for the whole season, winning Hammer of the Year and scoring vital goals to keep us up including the winner at Old Trafford on the last day of the season to relegate Sheffield United.
Third-party ownership of players was strictly forbidden by the Premier League and serious consequences are enforced if this rule was ever found to be breached.
Point deduction is one of the consequences of signing players with a third party ownership, although West Ham luckily didn’t receive this because it would have relegated the club. They were instead fined a hefty £5.5 million, a world record, after pleading guilty to a tribunal in 2007.
The confirmation of West Ham escaping a point deduction caused a stir among the football world and the relegated Blades wouldn’t let the issue drop.
A further court case followed and that saw West Ham pay compensation to Sheffield United and this remains an incendiary issue between the clubs and one that infuses this fixture like lighter fluid.
Resentment has festered and a new rivalry has formed. West Ham fans took to wearing Tevez masks in the first game between the sides after the affair and Sheffield United sing songs about hating West Ham.
Should the two teams continue to be in the same league for years to come this rivalry could increase further. No doubt though it will forever go down as one of the most shocking transfers in the history of football.