Hammers issue Bernard statement
"Glenn Roeder confirmed that neither the player nor his agents had been contacted by WHUFC in this matter and despite NUFC offering to discuss the transfer of the player we made it clear at that time we had no interest in discussing the matter. Contrary to the statement made by Freddy Shepherd, we did not at any time admit to "tapping up" the player and find it extraordinary that NUFC should find otherwise.
"After the last game of the season we were contacted by the representatives of the player enquiring as to whether we would be interested in talking with Olivier. They informed us that his existing contract had expired and the player had decided he wished to leave NUFC. They informed us they were discussing the player with two other Premiership Clubs, as well as Clubs from both France and Spain.
"Having reviewed the published list of retained players it confirmed the fact that the player's contract was due to expire and indicated that an offer to extend had been made by NUFC. Out of respect to NUFC we decided to contact the Premier League (PL) to ensure that this was the case and that we were legally allowed to approach the player. The PL confirmed this both orally and in writing. We also confirmed that there was no requirement to wait until the expiry of the contract on 30th June 2002 before we could negotiate with the player or his representatives.
"Having successfully negotiated a three-year contract with the player, we forwarded the same to the PL for registering in the normal manner. The PL subsequently informed us that NUFC had lodged an objection to the transfer of registration and that a PL hearing would be required to investigate NUFC's allegation that they had the benefit of an option to extend Olivier Bernard's contract. The hearing was to determine a private dispute between NUFC and Olivier Bernard. WHUFC were not a party to the dispute or the tribunal hearing.
"Having seen the overwhelming legal opinion in favour of the player we were extremely surprised that the hearing found in favour of NUFC and understand that the player and his legal team have lodged an appeal to have the decision overturned.
"Throughout this matter WHUFC have acted honourably and fully co-operated with the PL. The player is adamant the contract has expired and does not wish to return to NUFC and will contest the finding of the hearing using every process possible.
"WHUFC hope Olivier Bernard's dispute with NUFC can be resolved as soon as possible. We do not accept the claims from NUFC that WHUFC have acted improperly in this matter and will vigorously defend any action brought in respect of this dispute.
"No further comment will be made on this matter until after the appeal has been heard."