Cleared by jury, Redknapp in line for England job
Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp’s was cleared of tax evasion on
Wednesday, paving the way for the charismatic Englishman to cap a
30-year coaching career by becoming Fabio Capello’s successor with
the England national team.
Capello unexpectedly quit as England’s manager only hours after
Redknapp was cleared of concealing $295,000 of transfer bonuses in
a Monaco bank account while in charge of Portsmouth.
”Now that Harry has been proved innocent it makes a clear path
should the FA wish … to offer him the England manager’s job,”
former England coach Graham Taylor said.
The 64-year-old Redknapp is enjoying his most successful period
in management and was the favorite to take charge of England after
this year’s European Championship – even before Capello’s
resignation following a dispute about John Terry being fired as
Despite facing a trial, Redknapp has kept Tottenham in
contention for its first English league title since 1961, with the
team currently third in the Premier League.
In a case that stemmed from an 8 million pound ($13 million)
police inquiry into soccer corruption, Redknapp and former
Portsmouth chairman Milan Mandaric were cleared on two counts of
cheating the public purse.
”It really has been a nightmare,” said Redknapp, who was first
arrested in 2007. ”It’s been five years and this is a case that
should never have come to court because it’s unbelievable,
”It was horrendous, you know, but … the jury were absolutely
unanimous that there was no case to answer. I’m pleased now we can
go home and get on with our lives.”
The former West Ham player was brought to Tottenham from
Portsmouth in 2008 despite the allegations hanging over him.
”Everyone at the club is delighted for Harry and his family,”
Tottenham said in a statement. ”This has been hanging over him for
over four years and the last two weeks have been particularly
difficult. We are pleased to see this resolved and we all look
forward to the rest of the season.”
Redknapp managed Portsmouth from 2002-04 and returned in 2005
after a brief spell at Southampton, winning the FA Cup before
moving to Tottenham in 2008.
The prosecution claimed that Mandaric paid $145,000 into
Redknapp’s Monaco bank account in 2002 – a bonus prompted by Peter
Crouch’s sale from Portsmouth to Aston Villa – and another $150,000
two years later.
But jurors accepted Redknapp and Mandaric’s evidence that the
Rosie 47 bank account, named after the manager’s dog and his birth
year, had nothing to do with soccer matters. The 73-year-old
Mandaric claimed he was providing tax-free loans for investing.
Britain’s tax authority said it had ”no regrets” about taking
the case to trial, but experts questioned why the costly
high-profile prosecution was pursued.
”The Premier League will contribute over 1 billion pounds ($1.6
billion) to the exchequer (in taxes this season) for the first
time,” said Pete Hackleton, a sports expert at accountancy firm
Saffery Champness. ”Yet (the tax authority) appear to give
disproportionate focus to the tax affairs of football clubs and
those involved in the industry, often spending significant time and
resource conducting inquiries and taking high-profile cases.”
At another earlier trial involving Portsmouth, which could only
be reported for the first time on Wednesday, Mandaric and former
club chief executive Peter Storrie were also cleared of evading
600,000 pounds in taxes relating to a signing-on fee for defender
Amdy Faye and a termination payment to forward Eyal Berkovic.
Mandaric is now chairman of third-tier club Sheffield Wednesday
following a spell in control of Leicester after selling Portsmouth
in 2007. The Serbian claims to have ”saved three much-loved
football clubs which were on the brink of extinction.”
Rob Harris can be reached at www.twitter.com/RobHarrisUK