Hearts appeal FIFA's Webster ruling

GLASGOW (Reuters) - Hearts have lodged an appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) against FIFA’s ruling in the protracted Andy Webster affair.

Los Angeles Galaxy's Landon Donovan (C) shoots but is unable to score through the defence of Rangers FC's Alan Hutton and Andy Webster (L) during their international friendly in Carson, California, May 23, 2007. Hearts have lodged an appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) against FIFA's ruling in the protracted Webster affair. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok (UNITED STATES)

The Scottish Premier League club said in a statement issued at a news conference on Friday it disputed the 625,000 pounds compensation figure Webster had to pay for scrapping his deal with Hearts after the official deadline.

The Midlothian club also said it was not clear how the compensation figure was calculated by FIFA when the Scotland defender had been valued at four to five million pounds.

Earlier this month, football’s world governing body ordered Webster, on loan from Wigan Athletic to Rangers, to pay the fine and made the English Premier League club jointly responsible.

The defender failed to agree a new deal at Hearts last season with a year remaining on his four-year contract.

The club froze him out the first team and the 25-year-old invoked Article 17 of FIFA’s transfer regulations to cancel his contract after an established “protected period.”.

He then joined Wigan for nothing even though Hearts wanted a five million pounds fee.

Despite the fine and a two-week suspension, players’ union groups were pleased with the outcome because it recognised the right to serve notice on a club in line with other types of workers in the European Union.

FIFPro likened the move to the Bosman ruling and Hearts warned on their Web site on Friday of the dangers to clubs.

“We believe if the decision is allowed to stand then the effect on clubs caught in similar situations worldwide will be highly damaging with millions of pound flowing out the game.”

Hearts’ operations director Campbell Ogilvie added:

“If this situation is left unchecked and there is not an adequate value placed on players through the DRC (FIFA’s Dispute Resolution Chamber), then we are stepping ever nearer to clubs losing players in whom they have invested heavily.”

Stephen Sampson, head of sport law group Hammonds, was quoted on the Hearts Web site saying: “It is not an exaggeration to suggest that football is facing a new Bosman”.