Sunderland leave ineligible player dispute in hands of league

SUNDERLAND are confident they will not face an uncertain summer even if relegated clubs launch a legal challenge against the Premier League.

A report in The Observer yesterday claimed that the three clubs facing Championship football next season are preparing to go to court over the League's decision not to dock Sunderland points for fielding an ineligible player.

It was suggested that Norwich City, Fulham and Cardiff City have already taken the first steps to initiate proceedings which could cast doubt over Sunderland's top-flight status while the court action took place.

But Sunderland, who chose not to react to the reports last night, would argue that the matter is closed having already been punished for mistakenly fielding Ji Dong-Won in four matches when he had not received international clearance earlier in the campaign.

Sunderland paid the fine handed out to them by the Premier League after admitting they had wrongly fielded Ji in games with Fulham, Crystal Palace, Manchester United and Southampton. They lost three and collected a point against Southampton.

Ji's selection broke the rules because he needed international clearance, having been on loan to Ausburg, and now Norwich, who could argue the point would be crucial at this stage of the campaign, Fulham and Cardiff are demanding a review of the decision. If the request is rejected, legal action could follow.

Sunderland are not likely to get involved and will leave any dispute in the hands of the Premier League, believing they have done nothing wrong because the matter was dealt with appropriately at a Premier League board meeting in December after the confessing to the mistake.

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