Lawyer expects deduction for Millwall's relegation rivals

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ONE of the country's top sports lawyers expects Rotherham to be deducted three points for fielding an ineligible player.

A behind-closed-doors hearing is taking place this week to determine whether the Millers' victory over Brighton on April 6 will be struck off.

Derby defender Farrend Rawson, pictured, kept a clean sheet and was voted man-of-the-match during a 1-0 win over the Seagulls – but his loan deal had expired the day before.

Embarrassingly for Rotherham boss Steve Evans, he said after the game that Rawson is good enough to one day break into the England team.

But the Yorkshire club will play down his contribution to the result and have hired Jim Sturman QC, who defended Millwall against two FA charges in 2009, to fight their corner.

A three-point deduction at this stage of the season would radically alter the landscape at the bottom of the Championship table, with the Lions taking a keen interest in proceedings.

And Dan Chapman, a lawyer who represented Norwich when they were reported to the League by rivals Colchester in 2009, anticipates a favourable outcome for Neil Harris’ side.

"I just can't see how they can allow Rotherham to keep the three points," he said.

Chapman, a senior parter of Full Contact Law, argued against a deduction for the Canaries when a bitter dispute broke out over their managerial appointment of Paul Lambert.

The East Anglia club were eventually made to pay £425,000 to the U's for Lambert's services – but Chapman convinced a panel not to dish out a harsher punishment.

Chapman, who is also a players' agent, has acted for Premier League clubs and Formula One teams in a wide range of legal matters, and has first-hand experience of Football League hearings.

As recently as this season, one of Chapman's clients, Mansfield's Reggie Lambe, was at the centre of an ineligible player charge.

He believes that is one precedent Rotherham may put forward in their defence.

"Reggie had signed a contract extension the day before his deal was due to expire but for some reason the club secretary didn't file it," Chapman explained.

"So when he played the following afternoon, technically he was an out-of-contract player. Mansfield were fined £6,000.

"If you're Rotherham, you're going to argue that the offence of playing Rawson was very similar – all of the parties wanted the loan to be extended, but there was a clerical error.

"However, Mansfield lost that game 3-2 and the result is a big factor.

"They will always look at whether there is a way of punishing the club without affecting the result, and in Mansfield's case they lost the game anyway."

Last season, AFC Wimbledon fell foul of the ineligible player rule and, having won the game in question, were docked three points.

But Chapman says the recent example of Nuneaton being hit with a points penalty in the Conference is even more "powerful".

"That happened two weeks ago," he said. "It hasn't got as much publicity because Nuneaton are in the Conference and they are going to be relegated anyway.

"But the facts are very similar with regards to it being an administrative error over a loan extension.

"This was a Conference ruling as opposed to a Football Disciplinary Commission, however, it's still a relevant precedent and the appeal route is exactly the same – you'd end up in the same courts.

"It would be fairly arrogant to say that a Conference club fielded an ineligible player, wins the game and is docked three points, but a Championship club isn't.

"There is no rationale to distinguish between Nuneaton and Rotherham."

That said, Chapman admits these cases are rarely black and white.

"It is true that there is no clear precedent," he said.

"Fans might wonder why Rotherham are employing one of the most expensive QCs in the land, and the reason for that is because the range of outcomes could go from a three-point deduction through to a small fine, with different variations in between.

"The powers of the commission are very general – under the relevant rules, they can impose sanctions as they see fit.

"The rules are broad and the decision that's made is also challengeable, so Rotherham have engaged Jim Sturman QC to make the panel think twice about their decision."

But given his intimate knowledge of the League's rules and these proceedings, Chapman believes Rotherham will be handed the most serious sanction.

He said: "If you're on the panel, you're thinking 'if I don't deduct points, then I've potentially got a legal challenge from one of the other teams that may get relegated, and if I do deduct them, Rotherham might appeal'.

"But I think the lesser of two evils is justifying why Rotherham have been docked points when there are clear precedents to follow.

"It ought to be a three-point deduction, it really should."

If the decision does not go in Millwall's favour, and the club is relegated at Rotherham's expense, Chapman says the Lions would have two options available to them.

"Millwall are a participant in the Football League and any participant has the ability to challenge a decision that's been made," he explained.

"But what would almost certainly happen very quickly is that the League would refuse to overturn their own decision, so Millwall would have to escalate it through the courts.

"It would probably end up in the Court of Arbitration for Sport, which would become quite a big deal.

"But Millwall could take a different view and not challenge it as a sporting sanction, but instead simply accept relegation and then sue for damages.

"This is what Sheffield United successfully did with regards to West Ham and Carlos Tevez."

What will happen at the hearing?

"THERE is a three-man panel and the chair of the panel will be a lawyer," says Dan Chapman.

"The two wing members will be appointed by Rotherham and the League. You are given a list of wing members and you can each pick one.

"The process of lining up a panel is what will have taken place over the first couple of days. The League will present their case, which will be the documents relating to the player in question.

"The League's case will be quite straightforward if there is an admission from Rotherham – the only question is what is the appropriate sanction?

"The League will argue for what sanction they feel is appropriate – taking into account precedent – and then Rotherham's lawyer, Jim Sturman QC, will argue for the sanction he feels is appropriate.

"The whole hearing would take less than half a day, but the panel would then adjourn to consider their decision.

"Normally they email their decision to the two lawyers representing the League and the club, with a press embargo on it for a certain period of time, and then it goes out into the public domain."

Who is Jim Sturman QC?

DESCRIBED as "a leader in his field", Jim Sturman QC, hired by Rotherham to make their case, has an impressive client list.

Sturman has carried out work for all of the following: Chelsea, Tottenham, West Ham, Newcastle, Wigan, Millwall, AFC Wimbledon, Norwich City, Brighton, Charlton Athletic, Arsenal, CSKA Moscow, Graeme le Saux, Jimmy-Floyd Hasselbaink, Frank Lampard, Kieron Dyer, Joe Cole, John Terry, Gus Poyet, Jose Mourinho, Marcel Desailly, Michael Essien, Mido, Robbie Savage, Emre Belozoglu, Jens Lehmann, Robbie Keane, Didier Zakora, Michael Ballack, Michael Dawson, Jermain Jenas and Didier Drogba.

Alex Aldridge

(@accordingtoaldo)

42 thoughts on “Lawyer expects deduction for Millwall's relegation rivals

  • April 23, 2015 at 09:19
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    Cheating plain and simple..wots to argue with.the fact he is a defender and got MOTM after they won 1-0...i'll would deduct all points gained while he was there..not just 3

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    • April 23, 2015 at 09:27
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      @Jim28: 3 points definitely, at least, otherwise it's a conspiracy!! NOLU

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      • April 23, 2015 at 09:42
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        @lionrampant: we will lose 3mill if relagated.if the FL go in favour of rovum ..sue the b*******

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  • April 23, 2015 at 09:24
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    If Millwall were to stay up due to this, then it would be such a massive injustice for Rotherham as we haven't deserved to stay up this season.

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    • April 23, 2015 at 09:38
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      @manclion: That's true to a certain extent, but the fact of the matter is that Rotherham broke the rules and played somebody they shouldn't have.
      Imagine if it was the other way round, Rotherham would want the same action taken against us.
      I think that even if Rotherham are deducted points, we'll still be relegated as we just don't have anybody who can find the back of the net.
      Can't wait for this S*** season to be over in all honesty

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    • April 23, 2015 at 09:46
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      @manclion: It would be an injustice, but one we'd all gladly accept. My only worry is that under the current Berylson/Ambler regime we'd struggle again next year in the championship without proper investment. The team has got steadily worse each year during our current stay in this division and the standard of appointments (players and backroom staff), has been very poor. Its no reflection on Harris, who I think has done a good job, but we are where we deserve to be.

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    • April 23, 2015 at 09:46
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      @manclion: hate to say it but I agree. Yes they cheated but the fact is they play better than we did. I emphasise did and not now! If we played all season like we are now, we wouldn't be in trouble.

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    • April 23, 2015 at 14:23
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      @manclion: I'm not normally like this but today il make an exception. f*** rotherham and f*** everybody. We battle, we sometimes deserve more than we get and more often than not were on the receiving end . Take the points off em for their indiscretion n if we up 4 it we,l take advantage of our opportunity.

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  • April 23, 2015 at 09:43
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    Who gives a t*** if they're deducted points or not we blew our chance of survival on Tuesday! We played a team that had absolutely nothing to play for and blew every single chance we had! The decision from this panel is immaterial - we're down! And deservedly so!!

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    • April 23, 2015 at 10:11
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      @TheBermondseyBomber: Totally Agree. It is also irrelevant whether they get points deducted or not. Look at the two games we have left, both are beatable, but after the last display at Blackburn, where are the goals going to come from. I do not think Derby and Wolves are just going to roll over, both have a lot to play for. If we did manage to stay up, the team would need massive investment to compete. Yes we have good youngsters coming through, but can they compete with the clubs that are ex premier league, the answer is no. I love my club, but do I want to see yet another season like the last three, no. We need to rebuild properly.

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  • April 23, 2015 at 10:03
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    Can't believe what I'm hearing on here f*** Rotherham! It might be league 1 1 but I'll always put wall before any team and so should all wall supporters! We wouldn't get any sympathy from no one f*** em NOLU

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  • April 23, 2015 at 10:10
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    There can be no other outcome for Rotherham. They haven't complied with the rules. Precedence has already been set. 3 point deduction.
    Unfortunately after drawing away to Cardiff in a game we should have won and losing away to Blackburn, a team we should have anhilated with 22 shots/6 on target. I think it's curtains for us and I don't see Rotherham 3 point deduction having an impact. They have a game in hand. A chance for 9 points. We have a slim chance for 6 but highly unlikely. I'd love to avoid the deop but can see it. So as I mentioned in an earlier post it's time to secure contracts and extensions for those who are deserved. Everyone else out. Lets damage limitations now and start prepairi g for next seasons rebuild. And can someone pull that Justin Hoyte out of the Den come May the second and put him out with the rubbish.

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  • April 23, 2015 at 10:40
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    There can be no other outcome than a 3 point deduction.
    Forest Green and Nuneaton have both been deducted 3 points in the Conference this season for fielding an ineligible player.
    But we are still down even if this happens.

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  • April 23, 2015 at 10:41
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    Clutching at straws.. We just aren't good enough for this league. The points don't lie. Please don't get me wrong . I would love it , really love it . If we stay up this year. For financial reasons only. We must address the main problem. The new manger and the so called players. We need a root and branch solution to this problem. I.for one think Neil is not the one for me. He has had his chance. Bring in a man manger. Someone who will say it how it is. The players need to know that if they are not up for the fight, then their P45 is waiting for them in the office.

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    • April 23, 2015 at 11:34
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      @teddy.T: I don't think you can blame Harris. He has worked wonders with the players he has available. It isn't his fault that the club hasn't brought in proven strikers which we have been crying out for during the last two seasons. Give him a chance in League 1 next season but we must sign at least one new striker during the Summer bearing in mind we will have a transfer embargo in January 2016. As far as Rotherham are concerned if they don't get 3 points deducted let it stand because we will still be relegated anyyway but fight it through the courts for compensation like Sheff Utd did with West Ham.

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  • April 23, 2015 at 11:27
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    Come on Wall. Heads up.
    How can we expect the players to keep going till the end if we are throwing the towel in.
    This could very well go down to the last game at Wolves.
    DON'T GIVE UP.
    Up The Wall.

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    • April 23, 2015 at 17:39
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      @wall2wall: agree we have to get behind the wall sat big time. & f*** Rotherham dirty northern c****

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      • April 23, 2015 at 22:50
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        @block 28:
        Yes mate. I am up for Saturday big time and I know our lot will be making plenty of noise.
        I am confident that we will beat Derby and be above Rotherham saturday night.
        Never ever give up when something is still possible especially when your team is the mighty Millwall.
        f*** em all.

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  • April 23, 2015 at 11:47
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    having followed Millwall for over 60 years trust me I have seen all this before ..same old s*** and the same old stories ..its in the blood and trust me in 40, 50 years you will say the same and we will never support another club..

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  • April 23, 2015 at 12:00
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    If you go onto the BBC FOOTBALL website and type Rotherham Utd the main article with a picture is the so called trouble when Wall was at Rotherham. COME ON AFTER ALL THIS TIME STILL ON THERE ME THINKS TO MAKE WALL LOOK BAD - SO AS TO MAKE ROTHERHAM THE CHOIR BOYS IN ALL OF THIS. TALK ABOUT SNEEKY. COULD FINK OF A BETTER WORD.
    To field an ineligible player when the team won 1-0 and he played for 90 minutes is 3 points deduction - then what about the crime itself surely must get more points deduction for the act itself.
    Clubs could see this yep ok we can live with a 3 point deduction after a lot of matches have occurred after the event. Should be 10points minimum. Anyway the FA, SALLY ARMY, IRA, IKEA and every tom d*** and harry don't like us. SO IF THEY ARE DEDUCTED 3POINTS AND WE BEAT DERBY (THEY CRACKED AT THE END LAST YEAR) 2POINTS IN FRONT WITH ONE GAME TO GO AND ROTHERHAM 2 GAMES. READING AWAY AND LEEDS AWAY - LEEDS YORKSHIRE DON'T TAKE MUCH WORKING OUT DOES IT. AS MANY PEOPLE HAVE SAID HOLLOWAY SHOULD HAVE GONE EARLIER AND WE WOULD MORE THAN LIKELY STILL BE IN THE CHAMPIONSHIP BUT NOW CAN'T SEE IT HAPPENING ALTHOUGH WILL NEVER BELIEVE UNTIL THE FAT LADY SINGS.

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  • April 23, 2015 at 12:01
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    This could get very messy, a decision is made, then a club appeals for change in the decision, legal battle ensues and mid way through the summer we don't know if we stay up or go down and we can't sign players because we don't know what division we will be in or what our budget will be. I think for the sake of our club in the long run, a quick resolution and planning for next season to start ASAP is the best outcome. Sue for damages and bank the cash.

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  • April 23, 2015 at 13:01
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    I guarantee you relegation will go to the last day of the season if Rotherham are deducted 3 points , I still have hope tbh they won't beat Norwich on Saturday because they are fighting for automatic and we got Derby who have basically secured a play of spot. So we need to PRAYYY that reading win or draw at Rotherham & Leeds beat them on the last day to stand any chance of staying up.Lastly if wolves lose or draw this Saturday they will have nothing to play for come the last week of the season so I think Jackett will try to give us a chance lol

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  • April 23, 2015 at 13:25
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    Sky Sport says that Rotherham have said a decision will be made before weekend.

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  • April 23, 2015 at 14:31
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    Losing home and away to Rotherham has not helped our cause this season. Nonetheless we are lucky fuc*ers to still be in with a shout of staying up. If we do then a bloody good manager needs to come in to prevent another dogfight next year. If we get relegated then give the job to Bomber full time. He's great with the youngsters and should do well on a shoestring budget. Either way Will do just fine. NOLU

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    • April 23, 2015 at 19:55
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      @WestKentLion: even just drawing both games would have us 2 pts ABOVE Rotherham before any pt deduction.

      As much as I wish to stay in the championship it's hard to argue that we should stay up at Rotherhams expense when we've lost twice to them. 3 painful seasons in this divison perhaps a year or two in league 1 will do us good in the long term?

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  • April 23, 2015 at 17:10
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    F*ck the 3 point Deduction we've got sh*t strikers who blew it on Tuesday lets go down gracefully
    Give Bomber & Livermore the job ASAP
    Straight back up at 1st attempt
    Come On You Lions

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  • April 23, 2015 at 17:33
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    thing is we should have buried cardiff and blackburn so tbh i wont expect any handouts albeit we still got to get points against derby and wolves which i think is unlikely, but do we all belueve we should stay in this division after what we been served up this season? . give neil the job and get rid of the loanies and let the youngsters loose on division 1

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  • April 23, 2015 at 17:58
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    Are some of the boys on here. Watching our strikers with rose tinted glasses on.. Remember a stiker we got once who look the f€$#%¥ business . Uwe Fuchs loool .. With his slick black hair and sun tan look. A Greek god Odonis .You good smell the channel aftershave as he came out on to the pitch. But he was on the floor more times then a drunk sailor lol.. I am not a Neil Harris fan . Good footballer, but ever since he tried to call a players strike , over toast .. against my belove club. I forgive but not forget.

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  • April 23, 2015 at 18:32
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    I certainly believe people should be punished if rules have been broken , but staying up by default with the season we've had ,I'd sympathise with the millers fans on this issue, lack of forward ambitions at the start of the season ,and missed chances against Cardiff and Blackburn , even if we do gain out of this ,we still deserve league one status if I'm honest.

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  • April 23, 2015 at 18:48
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    Quick question
    Are we still paying Michael Tonges wages?

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    • April 23, 2015 at 18:51
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      @brooker: No one mentions him anymore, no idea if he is still at the club or not?

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    • April 24, 2015 at 06:49
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      @brooker: Blimey I cannot believe that I have completely forgotten about him ?????
      I thought the Martinez was the missing one but he is beaten by Tonge.
      Just shows what I have said for ages that the squad sizes nowadays are too big and you wonder why Clubs are losing so much, wasting money on wages for players that just are a waste of time.

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      • April 24, 2015 at 10:49
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        @Longfield Lion: I see his name on something the other day and thought "is he still with us or has he gone back" all websites show he is on loan with us until the end of the season and the end of his Leeds contract.
        Did he get on the pitch at all i cant remember?

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  • April 23, 2015 at 22:49
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    MILLWALL FAMILY, I know this isn't strictly allowed but we need your help and want to make you all aware so this doesn't happen to anyone else..
    On Tuesday 21st April (AM) my Nan was robbed in her own home at Brydale House, Bermondsey, SE16 by 2 white men in their late 20's claiming to be investigating a leak in the building.
    Every piece of jewellery she owned has been taken. One piece being a very distinctive Diamond ring that belonged to her mother and is over 100 years old and has tremendous sentimental value as you can imagine. We are offering a very generous reward for the safe return of this ring or any other pieces that were taken, including her wedding ring, another distinct white gold diamond ring and watches etc..
    Any info would be gratefully received and please let your loved ones and elderly relatives know that this is going on in the area and to be aware.. Hopefully we can catch the scum or at least reunite my 81yr old nan with some of her belongings!!
    Thanks for your time #millwallfamily

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    • April 23, 2015 at 22:58
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      @ettieneverveer:

      Total scum.
      So sorry for your nan and all of your family.
      Thanks for the heads up and I would seriously chop the f****** fingers off if I was certain that it was the right person.
      Hope you get some good news soon.

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    • April 24, 2015 at 06:53
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      @ettieneverveer: please publish their address if u find them, hope your nan is ok mate look after her .

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  • April 24, 2015 at 09:29
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    How many people on here think that if it comes down to last game of the season results, that our 'friends' up north Leeds wouldn't be to bothered about losing against Rotherham?

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  • April 24, 2015 at 13:01
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    In my heart I want us to stay in the Championship, but my brain says even if Rotherham get 3 points deducted it's unlikely. If we look at the stats we should've stayed up but for the lack of goals, another 10 goals and we could've survived. I know there's talk of John Marquis being give a new contract but would he be the answer or should the manager, whether it's Neil or not, be looking for a new one?

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