By Tony Attwood
A little while back I wrote a piece about the contractual details involving the transfer of Bale to Real Mad from Tottenham.
The information provided suggested that there were some very very dodgy dealings involved in this transfer, which, if the European Commission does its job, could come back to slap both clubs in the face quite hard. It also offers the first ever suggestion as to how it is that Tottenham always seem to spend so little in the transfer market and yet year after year end up in the top six. Indeed if you looked at the occasional table we have produced, they have often been the only club to make a profit over transfers.
Now we know the issues involve the banks lending money to Real Mad which under the deal of the Spanish bail out they are not allowed to do – and that information came from a relatively new but much welcome source of information: Football Leaks.
However they have also given us some more interesting snippets in revealing that Suarez’ deal from Liverpool! to Barcelona was not all it might have seemed. Although certainly not the “Luis Suarez to Barcelona confirmed as most expensive transfer in 2014 with big money deal set to cost almost £200m” deal that the Daily Mail suggested in December 2014, but still something different from what we were first told.
In July 2014 most papers gave the transfer figure as £75m, but the documents posted on the Football Leaks website show that it was over £10m less than this, and that it would be paid over five equal installments. The last one has not been paid yet.
The revelation leaves several questions, including the most important one: “why?” Why pretend that the deal was for more than it actually was? After all the actual amount was bound to come out eventually, through tax returns if nothing else.
We know that the owner of Liverpool! by his own admission, lied to Arsenal when he said there was no £40m buy out clause in the Suarez contract, and Untold was one of the very few places that covered this story at the time. The Liverpool! owner not only lied at the time but then went on to make a speech at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference boasting about his lying.
So was the suggestion that they had got £10 million more than they did get just another lie? That is possible because although everyone tells lies at some time or other, we’ve all surely observed some people who not only lie constantly, but boast about it. These people have the medical condition known as pseudologia fantastica or pathological lying, and Mr Henry seems to have this – something that makes him singularly unsuited to be the top man in a football club. But of course that is not our problem.
The condition has been described in The Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law as “falsification entirely disproportionate to any discernible end in view, may be extensive and very complicated, and may manifest over a period of years or even a lifetime.” You probably caught the article; it is certainly essential reading for anyone trying to unravel what goes on in football and football journalism.
So Mr Henry probably just does this sort of thing constantly, and we should perhaps not look for a deeper reason. If that is the case then we should also be very cautious indeed about any statements emanating from Liverpool! – and my rather silly insistence on putting the exclamation mark after the word Liverpool! (!) each time, maybe isn’t so silly, in that it serves to remind us that anything said about the club may be made up.
Thus Liverpool! got £10m less than they said. But I just wondered if there was any connection between the differentiation in the amount revealed here, and the fact that as I’ve also reported before a Dutch MEP tabled a question in the European parliament on why banks in Spain seemingly got involved in the financing of the Bale transfer – another transfer where the whole issue of who is paying how much to whom and for what is also on the table.
Several very serious people whose work I tend to treat with more respect than most have raised questions here. For example Derk Jan Eppink, Senior Fellow at the Centre for Policy Research wrote this in September 2013
“On the first of September 2013 the Spanish football team Real Madrid made public its acquisition of Gareth Bale, for a record price of 100 million Euros. Real Madrid has a debt of close to 600 million, financed in large parts by Caja de Madrid, a regional bank which is now part of Bankia. Bankia, a bank recently saved through the ESM for no less than 18 billion Euros, now backs this purchase by Real Madrid as well. Certainly these European funds cannot be used as a backstop for these unsustainable practices.
“Is the Commission aware of this situation and if so, how is it going to respond to European taxpayer’s money being used in such deals?”
Even the Telegraph – not normally a paper to cast any doubts over the wonderfulness of the rise of Tottenham to the dizzy heights recently was moved to say recently, “It would seem that Eppink was right all along. The financial institutions of a country that had been bailed out by the EU just one year earlier was guaranteeing the stupendous fee required by an indebted club to sign one of the world’s best footballers.”
While in these murky waters there is also the fact that Lionel Messi, Javier Mascherano and Neymar, all have something in common other than the fact that they play for Barcelona. They, like Mr Henry of Liverpool! believe that truth means nothing. But in their case it is the question of the truth they can manipulate when talking to the taxation authorities.
But what does link the Liverpool! contract with its revelation that the club lied about the cost of the deal, and the Tottenham / Real Mad contract over Bale is that the Bale contract is actually revealed to have a clause in it (clause 15 if you have a copy) in which both clubs agree to mislead everyone over how much the deal cost.
Which itself is not a crime unless done with the intention of avoiding taxation – although it would be nice if Uefa made it a crime.
Meanwhile Messi and his dad go to court on the small matter of €4.1 million tax fraud on May 31. Barcelona, who were banned from transfers for a year, have stated that there has been an “accumulation of totally inadmissible and external decisions that have been going on for some time, and that have nothing to with strictly sporting affairs”. Which is probably only a rough translation.
But maybe we shouldn’t be too surprised, for giving out misleading information is surely what football is largely about. For example in the papers today we see, “England 1 Holland 2: Roy Hodgson brought back to earth by Dutch double”. When Arsenal were beaten by Watford in the FA Cup it was a total fiasco, disaster and evidence of the need to get rid of the manager.
Looking at the England performance we see the headline “John Stones fluffs England audition for Euro 2016.” If it were Arsenal it would be a typical Wenger transfer cock up.
So where does this leave us? Well, I saw a headline the other day which read, “Expectations have risen, but reality has stayed the same.” I suspect what should follow that is…
These days football is lies covered in spin.
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A wretched puling fool, a whining mammet (Romeo and Juliet)