Did Sheffield United violate Rule U18?

Graham, a SL reader, asks if the contractual stipulation that prevented Steve Kabba from playing for Watford against Sheffield United was a breach of FAPL’s rule U18.

For previous discussions on the subject, please read this and this – both articles discuss the initial Commission findings and the problems with those findings.

Rule U18, if you remember, states:

“No club shall enter into a contract which enables any other party to that contract to acquire the ability materially to influence its policies or the performance of its teams in league matches or in any (other) competitions.”

Here’s what I know of the Steve Kabba situation – feel free to correct me if I’m wrong:

On 28th April 2007, Sheffield United played Watford at home. Steve Kabba had transfered in the 2007 January transfer window to Watford, and both the Sheffield United club website and the Watford club website state that there was a clause in Steve Kabba’s contract which prevented him from facing his former employers that season.

From the Sheff Utd site:

Meanwhile, in the Watford camp, striker Steven Kabba is ineligible to play in this weekend’s fixture due to a clause in his £500,000 move from Bramall Lane in January.

From the Watford site:

Ex-Sheffield United striker Steve Kabba is ruled out of the game – it was a feature in his contract when he signed for the ‘Orns in the January transfer window.

Isn’t this equal to allowing Sheffield United to materially influence the team selection of a league match? Wouldn’t that make it a breach of rule U18?

For the record, I think that Sheffield United should be allowed to protect their interests in this way.

However, is this a breach of rule U18 or not? And if so, how does that impact the Tevez ruling, not to mention the subsequent Sheffield United arbitration?

By the way, Sheffield United won that game 1-0.

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