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.
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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!
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.
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.
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