by Tony Attwood
Whenever we cover the dodgy doings by football clubs on this site, we get emails saying “your club is just as bad” and “why don’t you just write about your club” and then a few things that are not really repeatable.
So we’ll take those as read, and remind everyone that the headline of this site used to be “Football news from an Arsenal perspective”. I can’t remember why that got changed, but anyone, I’ve just changed it back as it seems relevant.
Anyway, I’ve always felt that was our brief, along with several special areas of interest. Including economics – not to mention dubious goings on, odd behaviour, fines and court cases. And it is rather odd that in and among the news these last few months we have found Leicester City FC’s name comes up quite a lot.
It all started, you might recall, with that business of them being promoted and seemingly spending far more than FFP allowed in doing so. That one recently started hovering around when QPR where caught in the same net and lost their appeal. I think they are appealing again, but basically as things stand QPR are in trouble, and if Leicester ever get relegated again, then the Championship is going to impose a pretty big fine and a transfer ban.
QPR have been told to pay the EFL £40m after being found guilty of breaking those rules at the same time as Leicester. Failure to pay would mean expulsion from the League. Leicester are ok for now because the PL doesn’t collect fines on behalf of the Football League, so they are rather keen to stay up.
But that was only for starters. For then there was that curious business of their marketing and publicity company that no one could find, but which was bringing in huge, huge and then mega huge incomes to help Leicester stay on the right side of FFP in the Premier League. That one’s gone a bit quiet, but these things never quite have the habit of vanishing for good.
And then third we reported that Leicester’s owner might be in a spot of local difficulty over his dealings in the airports of Thailand. We did a little resume a few months back.
Anyway, criminal proceedings against the owners of Leicester City in respect of an unpaid £323 million owing to the Thai government have now come to life once more. (I suspect they sent a cheque but it has got lost in the post). The accusation from the state is that this is the money that it is said to be owed by King Power and King Power’s owners, Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, and his son Aiyawatt.
King Power you may recall was given a booze selling monopoly in the airports by the then PM of the country, Thaksin Shinawatra, who used to own Manchester City. I was going to write a quick summary of Shinawatra’s difficulties with the law since then but there is no way I can find of summarising the multiplicity of course cases. If you are fascinated try Wiki – but you might want to set aside several hours to cover the detail.
But to summarise Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha set up a small shop in Bangkok called King Power and then in a way I don’t understand got the exclusive franchise for duty free sales at Suvarnabhumi airport. Thaksin Shinawatra may have been involved. But he went out in a military coup.
Back with King Power, a judge at Thailand’s central court for corruption and misconduct cases ruled that criminal allegations presented to the court in July should go ahead to see if King Power really has withheld £327m from the money it was to pay the state for the right to run the duty free shops.
The argument is that King Power worked hand in glove with airport staff so that the amount of duty free sales recorded was a mere pittance of the amount actually owed. In the end it is said they only paid 3% of the revenue to the state rather than 15%. Quite a difference.
There are also cases against 14 airport officials, two other King Power companies and Sombat Dechapanichkul, the chief operating officer of King Power International. The official court summary of the preliminaries said, “From the examination of the lawsuit, the court sees that the case is within the authority of the Central Court for Corruption and Misconduct case, and the lawsuit is in accordance with the Procedures for Corruption and Malfeasance Case Act.”
The lawsuit was filed by Charnchai Issarasenarak, former deputy chairman of a government anti-corruption subcommittee, King Power then filed a libel lawsuit against Charnchai in February this year, claiming defamation in statements he made alleging corruption.
King Power problems with the Football League which arise from the fact that having bought Leicester City for £39m when the club was in the Championship they then loaned the club more than £100m saying that it had come from the hard-to-locate marketing company.
The prosecution and defence in the criminal case will now submit further evidence and lists of witnesses to be heard, with suggestions that the case may come to trial in March. In the original lawsuit, Charnchai listed the current prime minister of Thailand, General Prayuth Chan O-Cha, as the second witness.
King Power responded, “King Power has always followed and been absolutely committed to the highest standards in proper and ethical business practice. We are proud of our company’s good name and honest reputation and will fight rigorously any attempts to discredit them.”
So what might happen to Leicester if the corruption case against its owners is proven? The King Power men might have to stand down, although the rules of the League are, of course, obscure. When it comes to protecting the league from dodgy owners they always are.
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