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From Ridsdale to QPR, there are corruption questions being asked

By Tony Attwood

The main thrust of Untold in terms of corruption relates to the issue of the way in which it seems that the Italian style low-level buying of referees in general as crept into the Premier League.

But while this is our main level of focus in terms of the way football has become bent over the years (and let us never forget that it was the match fixing antics of Liverpool and Manchester United that got us into the 1st Division in 1919) we should never lose sight of the fact that there is corruption throughout the world of football at every level.

Two cases are currently being investigated – and of course because the cases are on-going I make no allegation that anyone is guilty of any wrong doing.  They are simply interesting cases, coming at an interesting moment.

Peter Ridsdale, the man who was at the helm of Leeds United when they fell from grace, is currently helping Plymouth Argyle through their local difficulties was also top dog at Cardiff for a while.   He has appeared in court charged with three counts of unfair trading and fraud relating to his time at Cardiff.

The charges related to the  “Golden Ticket” scheme the club ran in December 2009.   Through this fans of Cardiff could buy season tickets for the 2010-11 season early. No harm in that, except that Mr Ridsdale and co said that money raised would be spent on players in the January 2010 transfer window.  What’s more, if as a result of this spending, the club were promoted, then the early buyers would get their money back!

Unfortunately no players were bought as the club under a transfer embargo at that time.  I suspect Mr Ridsdale forgot this – it was of course a tiny technical point.

Here’s how, in January 2010, the club explained its failure to buy players having taken money off the fans with the explicit promise made above:

“It was anticipated that if we launched these tickets early and had received new investment pre-Christmas or in January, we would have been able to invest in new players in the January transfer window.  In the absence of the new investment this will not be possible. We have to ensure that other overheads and financial issues are properly addressed. Whilst we apologise for this, we do not apologise for ensuring that the viability and financial health of the club is the ultimate priority.”

In other words the buying of the players was not dependent on the fans early buying, but on that plus further investment.  Further investment didn’t arrive, so the fans money was used to pay off other debts.

Mr Ridsdale is charged under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 and the Fraud Act 2006. The case will be heard in July and Mr Ridsdale has said he will defend himself thoroughly and denies all charges.

Meanwhile it seems that the FA can’t take any action against Cardiff even if the case above reveals (as seems possible) that the chairman of another football club has held a material influence over their transfer affairs. 

Cardiff has an arrangement with Player Finance Fund, an offshore fund, that it is said might be connected to Ray Ranson, formerly of Coventry City.  But because Cardiff are part of the Welsh FA, the FA (which covers England) can’t investigate.  The Welsh FA can’t investigate either because Coventry are in the FA, not the Welsh FA!

And so on to QPR, and the transfer of Alejandro Faurlín in July 2009. QPR face five charges, including entering into a third-party contract, providing false information, and (of course, the old favourite) bringing the game into disrepute.   Gianni Paladini, chairman of QPR faces charges personally as well.
The FA were supposed  to tell us all by now what they were going to do, but they haven’t.  The problem is that QPR should be going up to the Premier League, which has quite a history of these things (WHU springs to mind), but if they are docked points they won’t.  That might put them in the play-off positions – but play offs are arranged immediately the season ends, and if QPR then appealed, it could be months before anyone knew who should play whom.  It could drift into the new season, because even if QPR lost its appeal it could go to court given the oddness of the case…
The whole problem is that the player was said to be worth £3.5m. But his previous club said they never got the money.  The implication is that it went to an agent – although I have to admit I once said on this blog Dennis Bergkamp was worth £1000m – but no one got that money either.

QPR were given permission to buy out Faurlín’s registration in January to make him eligible to play and QPR say that they did not know about the existence of the FA rule until the Football League introduced its own ban on third-party ownership, as part of the move to harmonise its rulebook with the Premier League.  The rules only came into force on 4 July 2009 but (oh dear oh dear!) clubs were not informed of the rule change until after 4 July. Faurlín was registered on 7 July.

Ooops.

West Ham Pornography, got caught in a similar thing, although with less explanations and excuses, and had no points deducted but had to pay a £5.5m fine and following a later court case £26.5m compensation.

And here’s another goodie.  The FA won’t tell us who is sitting on the panel that will decide QPR’s fate.  Now why not, I wonder.

The story of when Arsenal went bust

Arsenal today, tomorrow, next week, and some scandal too

Remember Bruce Rioch?  The History site looks at Arsenal’s last manager

Arsenal on Twitter @Untold Arsenal

14 comments to From Ridsdale to QPR, there are corruption questions being asked

  • bob

    @Tony, Walter, Dogface, all:
    In a court of law, this might be considered Jury Tampering or Bribing the Judge. In the court of Public Opinion, it’s just Fergie being Fergie. To me it’s mind-bending: this morning’s bleating from on high at Kastle Fergus: the blatant (hidden in plaing sight) stroking/warning of Howard Webb… Exhibit A in the Bent-Ref Probability Thesis:
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2011/may/06/sir-alex-ferguson-howard-webb-chelsea Read it and weep; then again, it’s grist for our mill!

  • Stevie E

    Bob, cheers for pointing that out, I’ve given up reading the papers these days after all the shocking stories about us… I really hope there is a decision in the iou v cheslski game that will make fergies comments come back and bite him on the arse. So any comments about refs before the game, blatent rule breaking = docked points? Webb relegated to conference for match fixing? Or will we see all this ignored by motd & gutter press as they cheat their way to the title…

  • Shard

    @bob

    If there is an FA ruling that managers are not to talk about referees before the game, surely there should be some action taken against Fergie, or are his minions all powerful? I think repeat offenders should have their club docked points. Since they are actually seeking to unfairly gain points, this would only be fair.

    @Tony
    Why has it taken the FA so long to wake up to the QPR transfer. You said it happened in July 2009. Why almost 2 years before any investigation is conducted? On top of that they don’t reveal who will sit in judgment on the issue. Considering it’s worth around 40million pounds to the club gaining promotion, surely they could spare something for those poor nameless, faceless,unknown figures at the FA. Couldn’t they?

  • Mandy Dodd

    May be wrong but all things tilting toward Utd this year to me is something out of the ordinary even for them.
    I hope that if they do win the league, it will be Fergies last. Maybe hopelessly optimistic here but I can never remember so many aspects conspiring to help a team. The FA, other managers and refs falling over to embarrass themselves in Fergies cause.
    Is this all part of Fergies retirement present? Some get carriage clocks, Fergie gets the league title from bent authorities.
    Howard Webb in his 3rd key game at OT this season (the others being us and Liverpool) with his record is the final proof.
    Will be quite fun if Chelsea put in a 3-0 performance and he can do little about it without losing whatever dignity Webb has left though

  • Mandy Dodd

    Just read QPR will escape a points deduction. Maybe they are innocent or maybe the FA have bottled it. Maybe Luton and Swindon should have used the same lawyers….

  • Pete

    Before I forget, the Telegraph ran a special feature on the topic of match-fixing … there were a few articles published by them on the same day including this one (some of the further articles linked to from this page):
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/8496783/How-match-fixing-gangs-make-money-out-of-football.html

  • Pete

    They were published just last week…

  • bob

    @Walter, Dogface: Would you consider sparing any of your (sorry) “free time” to tape/look/analyze Howard Webb’s performance tomorrow at OT? In light of SAF’s pre-match tampering today (as reported in today’s Guardian – see link above), I think that your expertise on Webb’s performance (which the Telegraph claims is even-handed vis a vis those 2 sides, ha!) would add an interesting to very-important dimension to UA’s eventual report/understanding of this season’s Refereeing vis-a-vis Arsenal. With the World Cup and the 2010 Championship League final, and now this, Webb has clearly been anointed THE WORLD’S TOP REF. Will Don Fergus be denied his record-breaking 19th championship on Webb’s watch? And to what extent has SAF’s DESIRE been a factor that helped de-rail our drive for the EPL championship? I’m hardly alone in wanting your views on such rot.

  • Mandy Dodd

    am sure SAF has played a huge part in de-railing our season, aided and abetted by at best biased officials and unfortunately our own silly mistakes.
    I do wonder if this is all part of some type of retirement gift for Fergie this summer, hopefully when he goes, some semblance of a level playing field with refs may return….hopefully….

  • bob

    @Mandy Dodd: Yeah, at bottom, I too think it’s a retirement gift (by hook or by CROOK). But I think if/when he gets to 19, he’ll go for 20 next season (– as surely he’ll be “persuaded” by his adoring minions base to stay on (or, to “un-retire,” or whatever); this as the number 20 is surely a more imposing, well rounded, towering figure (rolls smoothly off the mind’s tongue, SAF means 20) to his Unparalleled Legacy. I would bet the farm that such is drive for glory, by any means necessary.

  • walter

    Bob, I will try to do the MU-Chelsea game like I do an Arsenal game. but please give me a few extra days for this.

    I think you are right this should be done to see how Webb done this game.

  • bob

    Great Walter! There may be gold in them thar hills! It’ll be a welcome gift in any case and something fresh (or rotten!) might be revealed.

  • goonergerry

    This is a very good piece.
    It is simply ludicrous that Ridsdale is being charged under consumer protection legislation. The fact that QPR can virtually punishment for a blatant infringement of transfer regulations and Ferguson continues to attempt to influence referees blatantly through the media without fear of punishment-demonstrates how ineffective current anti-corruption measures are within English football. The lack of transparency regarding the process and who sits in judgement is contrary to principles of natural justice which underpin English law. Because there is no identifiable “harmed party”-unlike the West Ham case- this judgement is unlikely to ever be challenged.
    It is very clear that the public cannot rely on English football authorities to administer justice fairly-and be seen to administer it fairly.
    New legislation is needed-and a regime of binding regulations incorporated into it.
    It need to be understood that nothing is more likely to bring the game into disrepute than corruption.
    In the short-term at the very least Webb should be dropped for the United Chelsea game and Ferguson charged with bringing the game into disrepute.

  • Rhys Jaggar

    Look, if your facts are correct and the FA instituted new regulations on 4th July 2009, but failed to inform football league clubs of that and QPR registered Faurlin 7th July, then the first, simple truth is that how were QPR supposed to know of the new regulation if it had not been announced?

    If the FA said to QPR: we had this Board meeting, decided things on 4th July but you only all found out about it on 11th July (or whenever), then either the FA announced immediately that transfers registered before 11th July were immune, or they sorted it out there and then.

    I repeat, if your facts are correct, a prosecutor trying to do QPR would look a right moron, to put it mildly.

    All this is about fear of the multibillionaires who own QPR.

    If they haven’t done it again since the FA informed the Football league, then they’re clearly not criminals.

    And if the FA wouldn’t sort it out properly at the time, rather than wait 2 years, shame on them.

    I repeat, my arguments only hold if your facts are right.