Manchester, England:Carlos Tevez's goal against Manchester United secured West Ham's Premier League status - for now.
The fallout from the Argentina forward's signing may still see the Hammers relegated in the courts.
Last month, the London club was fined 5.5 million pounds for breaking league rules over the transfer of Tevez and Javier Mascherano in August. Mascherano moved to Liverpool in January.
Despite being found guilty of fielding players owned by a third party no points were deducted, angering the Hammers' one-time relegation rivals, who have threatened legal action.
Sheffield United dropped into the League Championship on Sunday after losing to Wigan 2-1, but would have survived if the Hammers had been deducted at least three points.
"I don't think there will be an overturning of the decision," West Ham manager Alan Curbishley said. "And it's out of my hands."
But Blades chairman Kevin McCabe is furious that the relegation battle was not been played on "a level playing field."
"The FA Premier League should have a good night's sleep and think, 'Is what has happened fair?'" McCabe said. "We have played to the rules and one club hasn't played by the rules and the FA Premier League should do something about it."
Tevez's goal in first-half injury time led West Ham to a 1-0 win at champion Manchester United, which means the club can contemplate rebuilding after a season mired in farce and uncertainty off the field.
"We've pulled off an amazing escape," said Curbishley, who was appointed in December to salvage West Ham's faltering campaign.
"We have been public enemy No 1. It's been ramped up a lot this week, but all we've done is got on with it and the Premier League have said it's over. We've got to get on with it now and get on with it next year."
West Ham was 18th in the 20-team league when Curbishley took over, but the club has produced some good results to creep out of the relegation zone, winning seven out of its last nine games.
"I'll give great credit to the players. All I've done is perhaps kept it low key and kept the training simple and the results have picked up," Curbishley said. "In football, confidence breeds results or results breed confidence. Either way, you need both of them, and that's what has come along."
Tevez has been voted the club's standout player of the season, but he took 20 appearances to score, eventually knocking a free kick past Tottenham goalkeeper Paul Robinson in a 4-3 defeat in March.
The 23-year-old forward's frustrations were reflected throughout the team, which struggled to recover from a demoralising setback exactly a year ago.
West Ham was on the verge of lifting the FA Cup in 2006 until Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard scored a late equalizer to cancel out a 2-0 lead and force extra time. West Ham lost the final on penalty kicks.
The season started brightly, with West Ham rallying to beat Charlton 3-1. Then the club spiraled out of control.
Despite the arrival of Mascherano and Tevez from Brazilian club Corinthians raising hopes of a new era, the next win didn't come until the end of October when Blackburn was beaten 2-1.
Meanwhile, the club was eliminated from the UEFA Cup by Palermo and from the League Cup by third division team Chesterfield.
In November, an Icelandic consortium led by Eggert Magnusson ended months of destabilizing speculation by taking control of the club for 85 million pounds (US$166 million; euro126 million).
With the Hammers languishing in the relegation zone after 11 league losses from 17 games, Magnusson wasn't prepared to take any risks.
Within weeks, Alan Pardew, who led West Ham back into the top division in 2005, was fired.
But crises on and off the field - including a gambling scandal - sparked the club to fight for its survival and was praised by United manager Alex Ferguson on Sunday.
"West Ham have been in championship form. They were the team in the best form coming into these fixtures," Ferguson said. "Whether West Ham should be in the league is not for me to say."
It may be for the courts, however.