Simon Parker column
So what can we make on the latest Mark Stewart instalment – with the emphasis on the word ‘stall’?
Three months after David Baldwin and City’s legal team took their case to Switzerland, nobody is still any nearer to finding out the answer.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport has delayed their ruling for a second time. Already put back to today, the deadline has now been stretched again until the end of the month.
And I don’t think you’ll get very generous odds on betting that being adjourned once more.
It seems that the powers-that-be in Lausanne have much to chew over. Either that, or the paperwork has fallen down the back of the filing cabinet as they switch their attentions to juicier Winter Olympic matters like deciding why Daniela Bauer was not picked for the Austrian freestyle skiing team ...
Incidentally, I’m sure you’re fascinated to know that Fraulein Bauer’s appeal was dismissed inside two days.
Meanwhile City and, presumably, an increasingly-agitated Falkirk, wait for the postman to deliver news of Stewart’s worth.
It might be foolish to read too much into the long delay. There was, by all accounts, a crazy amount of legalese for the panel to wade through.
But the more this drags on, the more cause for cautious optimism within Valley Parade’s four walls.
Maybe, like a trial jury split down the middle on a defendant’s guilt, they are genuinely wrestling with the dilemma of which way to fall.
City were always confident that they had presented a powerful case against a FIFA ruling that sounds no less ridiculous the longer this case takes.
As it stands, the world’s governing body would have us believe that Stewart’s development is worth in the region of £217,000.
That would make him the club’s most expensive signing since December 2000 when Jim Jefferies took Robert Molenaar from Leeds for £500,000 at a time when the “six weeks of madness” had greased the slide out of the Premiership and towards potential financial oblivion.
At least the ‘Terminator’ did deliver on occasions. They got far less for their buck with Stewart, who made 15 appearances and failed to trouble the scorers.
The striker touted in Scotland before the move to top the goal charts has since scored three in three – that’s three in three seasons.
He completed his latest move last week to Derry City in the League of Ireland. There was no six-figure transfer fee involved – Stewart had already been released by previous club Kilmarnock.
City have always been adamant they should not have to cough up big bucks in ‘training compensation’ to the team where he made his name.
Stewart’s Valley Parade career lasted less than 12 hours in total – that’s a cost, in FIFA’s eyes, of £304 a minute ...
I’m sure the striker himself, who is understood to have given evidence by phone during the Swiss hearing, would see that for the nonsense it is. It’s not his fault that he has been caught in the eye of this storm.
Yet should City win and CAS come down on their side of the argument, Stewart will be held up as a test case. All right, not in the same league as Jean-Marc Bosman, but the landmark victory would send out a powerful signal that FIFA can be legitimately and successfully challenged.
That is the most significant point in this. However independent the judges, it would be a big call to stand up to football’s most powerful voice.
But the longer this saga seems to drag on, you wonder if CAS just might be building up the courage.