Harry 'gave away Pompey pay-off' following split with chairman Mandaric
Harry Redknapp walked away from a 200,000 pay-off when he resigned as Portsmouth manager in 2004, insisting he ‘did not want their money’ after an acrimonious split with then chairman Milan Mandaric.
On the fourth day of the Redknapp and Mandaric trial at Southwark Crown Court, the jury heard an astonishing City of London police interview with the Tottenham manager.
During the interview, conducted in June 2009 at Bishopsgate police station, Redknapp dismissed allegations that he had cheated the public revenue on payments made by Mandaric into a Monaco-based bank account by revealing he lost more money when he quit as Portsmouth manager in November 2004. Redknapp asked his advisers to ‘tell them to give the money to youth football in Portsmouth’.
In the dock: Harry Redknapp arrives at court as his trial continues
His departure, Redknapp told the police and an officer from Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, came little more than six months after Mandaric had made the second of the two payments — totalling $295,000 — into the Monaco account in April 2004. ‘Six months later we fell out,’ said Redknapp of his relationship with Mandaric. ‘I got the hump with him because he brought in a director of football when I didn’t want one.
‘And he got the needle because I became bigger than him at the football club. He didn’t like that really.
‘Then we played Villa and we were 2-0 down at half-time and Milan — I had two friends sitting behind him — tore up his ticket into 50 pieces, threw it up in the air and said, “Why am I paying all this money for this rubbish”
‘So the next morning I rang Peter Storrie (the then chief executive) and said, “I’ve had enough of him. I want out”.’
It was then, the court heard, that Redknapp asked former Professional Footballers’ Association deputy chief executive Mick McGuire to negotiate any monies owing on his contract.
‘I did an agreement with Peter Storrie,’ said Redknapp. ‘Mick McGuire of the PFA negotiated it with me; we agreed a pay-off to settle my contract of 180,000-200,000, I couldn’t swear to the exact figure.
Falling out: Redknapp and Milan Mandaric had an acrimonious split
‘Mick rang me the next morning and said, “OK, we have agreed it. No announcement will happen until we receive the money, but don’t sign anything until we have the money because you know what they are like”.
‘I said I didn’t want their money. “Tell them to give it to youth football in Portsmouth. I don’t want their money”. He said, “Are you mad”, but I didn’t want the money.
‘Now why am I going to fiddle 30 grand in income tax when I walk away from 200 grand six months later I’m not going to be involved in a tax fiddle in Monaco; it’s impossible.’
Earlier, the court also heard evidence from Alan Hills, who for around nine years was Redknapp’s private bank manager at HSBC in London.
Defending Redknapp, John Kelsey-Fry QC suggested to Hills that his client had a history of ‘disastrous’ business decisions and revealed how he once lost 250,000 in a ‘very unsuccessful’ takeover bid at Oxford United to illustrate as much.
In doing so Mr Kelsey-Fry was challenging the assertion made by the Crown prosecutor that Redknapp was ‘a hard-headed businessman’.
He asked Hills: ‘Do you remember an occasion when he was persuaded to loan, at very short notice, 250,000 to buy Oxford United and that money just disappeared into the mist’
Hills replied: ‘I have never seen it, yes.’
Business as usual: Tottenham players train for the FA Cup tie at Watford
On another dramatic day in Court Six Redknapp listened intently to an interview that also included him telling the police of difficulties he had with writing and using modern forms of communication. It was why, he said, he has long entrusted his accountant, Malcolm Webber, to take care of his financial affairs.
‘I have a big problem,’ he said. ‘I can’t write. I write like a two-year-old. I can’t spell. I’m ashamed to say I could not even fill in a team sheet. You can talk to anyone at the football club about it.’
The trial continues on Friday but Redknapp, who along with Mandaric denies the charges of tax evasion, will leave court to make the dash from London Bridge to Watford for Tottenham'FA Cup fourth-round tie.
On Thursday his assistant, Kevin Bond, said Redknapp would select the team, give the pre-match team talk and give a post-match press conference.
'I’m not completely au fait with the logistics but he will come away from the court at the earliest opportunity and meet us in the hotel we are staying in,’ said Bond. ‘He will give the team talk.
‘Harry wasn’t here for a few days a few weeks back (when he had minor heart surgery) and really we are just carrying on without him. To a large degree the training is exactly the same; it’s just that Harry is not there overseeing it all.
‘Talking to Harry yesterday, he was keen to know our thoughts on Watford and how we are looking. We made preparations to come to the game and he was genuinely looking forward to it.’