'I'm Not a F****** Wheeler Dealer'

It’s been a tough couple of days for Harry Redknapp. Firstly his side lost to a last minute Mario Balotelli penalty to leave their title challenge hanging by a thread and now he’s stuck in court, facing serious allegations of tax evasion. It doesn’t look good for Harry so far either, as evidence suggests he may well be guilty.

Accused of receiving secret payments from fellow defendant, former Portsmouth Milan Mandaric, the Spurs boss is up in court on charges of cheating the public revenue. Southwark Crown Court has been told Mr Redknapp received $295,000 for which he had no intention of declaring for tax purposes. A secret Monaco account has been revealed under the name of ‘Rosie 47’ (the name of Redknapp’s pet dog and year of birth), and he has been accused of receiving several payments into this offshore account. It is alleged that in 2002, Mandaric paid $145,000 into this account and then in 2004, Mandaric made a further payment of $154,000 into Mr Redknapp’s account to avoid income tax and National Insurance. Redkanpp did not tell his accountant about the offshore accounts, indeed it was only revealed after questioning from the Premier League inquiry.

Redkanpp is also being investigated over his transfer dealings, including the deal that took Rio Ferdinand from West Ham to Leeds United for £18.9 million. Redknapp allegedly took a payment of £300,000 in profit from the deal and there are similar suspicious patterns of activity regarding deals involving Jermaine Defoe and Peter Crouch during his time at Portsmouth. Whilst Redknapp was director of football at Portsmouth, his contract entitled him to 10% of net profit from transfers and there are rumours that he is also entitled to 10% of whatever transfer fee Jermaine Defoe commands when moving clubs.

These ‘bungs’ or ‘offshore bonuses’ are a throw-back to the days of George Graham, who took unauthorised cuts from transfer fees and was banned from the game for a year in 1995. Graham, like Redknapp was a top manager at the time and despite his dismissal from Arsenal, looked set to have a great managerial career at the top. However, after his return to football, he had disappointing spells at Leeds United and Tottenham Hotspur. Whilst Redknapp may not be as mentally scarred by the incident, indeed he is 64 and has managed 6 sides during his illustrious career, his chances of getting the England job could be severely hampered. Redkanpp is the nailed-on favourite to replace Fabio Capello after EURO 2012 and rightly so given his success in management, but the FA will take a dim view on appointing a man with such charges leveled against him. Tottenham also are performing wonders in the League this season and any bad publicity surrounding their manager could affect their chances of winning a first Premier League trophy.

It is unclear as to what effect this will have on Redknapp’s career. He still offers a solid defence, telling a reporter “Don’t say bung. How can it be a bung when it was paid by the chairman?” He says the Monaco account has nothing to do with football and “nothing to do with bonuses,” but merely an investment. However, if he is found guilty, does he receive a similar ban to the one Graham received all those years ago, or does the FA take a stricter approach this time round? Bungs in football used to be rife, indeed Brian Clough was known to have been involved with several underhand dealings during his long career, but bribing in football has been rare since the Graham affair. More recently though, with the rise of greedy football agents and 3rd party ownership, there is a suspicion such activity has risen in recent years as highlighted by Redknapp’s trial. Panorama produced a programme on illegal payments and Sam Allardyce was investigated on charges of taking illegal payments, though he was found to be not guilty. Chelsea, Newcastle, Bolton, Middlesbrough and Portsmouth were all named by the report, with expressed concerns about 15 agents and third parties involved in some 17 transfers. Although no action was taken over these claims, if Redknapp is found guilty, the FA could choose to make an example of him.

Redknapp insists he is clean though, and in his own now-legendary words ushered to a reporter, Harry is “not a f******’ wheeler dealer.’

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