Saturday, 16 June 2007

The Idiot, Poor People, Crime And Punishment

When the prospect of a bungs inquiry first appeared on the horizon, groups of traders got together in a private sweepstakes market to name the most likely managers to be fingered (assuming any fingering was to be undertaken). With a gloat and a bulging wallet, I offer you my quintet of Allardyce, Souness, Redknapp, Curbishley and Mourinho :)
The naming of sixteen suspect transfers plus one other transaction that is deemed so serious that police action is already underway moved the Quest process onwards incrementally yesterday. The Premier League and Quest were effectively forced to "go public" after news that an arrest had already been made for money laundering related to the football industry. Despite enjoyment at seeing some reprehensibles having to seek urgent legal advice, we are still at the tip of a rather large iceberg here. The lack of any hard evidence presented by Quest may well be indicative of a public warning, a yellow card if you like, for the named and partially shamed protagonists.
It is interesting however that the names are representative of some of the main operators in English football. With the exception of Mourinho from the above listing, all of the other four are on our Trading Team's A List of Focus Managers. We know little about the inside world of bungs and agents but we are pretty perceptive when it comes to global football betting markets and Souness, Redknapp and Curbishley allegedly share our intimate knowledge of such sectors. It is not so surprising the allegedly bad apples might be allegedly bad in all areas of their businesses. Which makes Quest Point 7 all the more entertaining: "In the course of the Inquiry a further matter has become evident that the Inquiry believes should be considered by the Football Authorities. Willie McKay provided information that he had registered a race horse in the name of Harry Redknapp. Harry Redknapp has confirmed that this could well have happened though it was a very unsuccessful horse that resulted in no material gain or reward for him. There is no evidence that this transaction is related to any specific transfer, more a consequence of a long term personal association. Inquiries into this matter should continue". Perhaps these inquiries might include Redknapp's property empire?! By the way, Portsmouth are linked in some manner with points 1, 4, 5 and 7 in Quest's report.
Over 60% of the transfers pinpointed yesterday involve African players. The market conditions for footballers from Africa are considerably more abusive than even the Latin American market. Grinding poverty is a heavy millstone to carry to the negotiating table and tilted contracts are more easily created by operators like Pini Zahavi who have a total grasp of the incentives and clauses to be addressed (think Tesco with regard to planning permission, for example). Predictably, Zahavi is threatening blood and thunder for Quest at the hands of his solicitors but, then again, Allardyce was informing the BBC that his lawyers would be in touch following the Panorama exposé. Such posturing is generally public spin and a statement of a lack of intent rather than the opposite.
Slightly suspicious Barry Silkman is right on one level in his complaints about being highlighted as a dodgy character. If he was corrupt in Rochembach's transfer to Boro then so was current England manager Strategic McClaren.
This whole inquiry is highly selective and should have, in a perfect world, stretched all the way back to the time when Sky first got involved in English football. Many of the movers and shakers in our spectacular society sport would have been shifting nervously around if that had been the time window of choice. The arbitrarily selected two years has avoided the potential for English football to be entirely destabilised to the core.
As a final piece of entertaining intrigue, Willie McKay started off in life as a Glaswegian bookmaker before getting involved as proprietor of Merton Grange horseracing stables with a little bit of football agent work on the side. How many pies, pal?

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