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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

fa punishes spurs with fine, cup ban

LONDON -- Stunned Tottenham was reeling after the premier league club received some of the most spectacular punishment ever handed down in the history of British soccer. The English Football Association fined Tottenham on Tuesday a record ?600,000 ($912,000) over irregular payments to players in the 1980s. It was also banned from the 1994-95 FA Cup and had 12 points deducted from the start of the next premier league season. One big firm of bookmakers immediately extended the odds against Tottenham winning the league from 50-1 to 250-1. Short of relegating the famous club to the English first division, the penalties could scarcely have been more severe. A ban from the FA Cup, which it has won a joint record eight times, is potentially a massive financial blow. Starting the league on minus 12 points immediately places Tottenham at a huge disadvantage. It could be several weeks into the season before the club even moves into a plus situation. With four clubs going down next season for the first time instead of the usual three, Tottenham virtually starts as favorite for relegation. The penalties were imposed by a special FA commission after an investigation into allegations that between 1985 and 1989 Tottenham made interest-free loans to players amounting to over ?400,000 ($600,000). Although not illegal because they were declared for tax, the payments were in breach of the premier-league rules. In all there were more than 40 charges of financial irregularities involving 15 or 16 players, including England midfielder Paul Gascoigne, Gary Mabbutt and Terry Fenwick. Alan Sugar, wealthy computer entrepreneur and chairman of the club, argued for more than six hours Tuesday that Tottenham should not be held responsible for matters beyond the control of the present management. Sugar said after Tuesday's hearing: "I was always brought up to believe honesty is the best policy, and have followed that throughout my career. "The punishment dished out today is a bitter pill to swallow if you adopt that policy as I have done."