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Lawyers brought into relegation fight

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Sunderland looked as if they had pulled off 'the great escape' with their victory over Manchester United yesterday, but now they face a legal challenge that could put them back in the relegation zone. 

Relegation rivals Cardiff City, Fulham and Norwich City have joined forces to hire lawyers to challenge a decision not to deduct points from Sunderland for fielding an ineligible player.   That is the more usual punishment in such cases, but the wording of the rule is permissive rather than mandatory.

On the face of it, the case seems unlikely to succeed, but it may delay a final resolution of the relegation places.   Once again this reflects the financial stakes involved in being in the Premiership.