Fri, Nov 30, 2007 - Page 22 News List

Redknapp arrested in corruption probe

DIRTY HARRY? The Portsmouth manager was being held by City of London police, along with four other men, on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud and false accounting

THE GUARDIAN AND AFP , LONDON

Harry Redknapp, manager of the English Premier League soccer team Portsmouth, right, with Portsmouth chief executive Peter Storrie, pictured in November 2004. Redknapp and Storrie were among five people arrested on Wednesday in an investigation into corruption in English soccer.

PHOTO: AP

The long-running investigation into corruption in British professional soccer stepped up a gear on Wednesday night when it emerged that one of England's top coaches, Harry Redknapp, was among five men arrested by fraud squad detectives.

Redknapp, the manager of Premiership club Portsmouth, was held by City of London police as part of an investigation into alleged "bungs" (illegal payments) in the game.

Also arrested were the chief executive of Portsmouth, Peter Storrie, and Milan Mandaric, the Serbian businessman who owned Portsmouth until September last year and is now chairman of Leicester City.

A player, the Charlton Athletic midfielder Amdy Faye, 30, and the soccer agent Willie McKay, 48 were also arrested.

The transfer of Senegalese international Faye from Portsmouth to Newcastle United was one of the 17 deals the former chief of London's Metropolitan police force, John Stevens, highlighted as having concerns about at the end of his inquiry into soccer transfers.

McKay acted as agent for the transfer while Mandaric was chairman of Portsmouth when Faye went to Newcastle in January 2005. Faye moved from the French club Auxerre to Portsmouth in August 2003. Faye has since played for Charlton and is now on loan with Rangers.

Redknapp, who was arrested on Tuesday night, insisted yesterday that the probe into corruption had nothing to do with him.

In a statement at the Portsmouth's training ground, Redknapp said he was "bitterly disappointed" to have been arrested on Wednesday and had been left "deeply hurt" by the incident.

The 60-year-old Pompey boss felt he was only questioned to give a higher profile to the City of London Police's investigation.

"If you can tell me that's the way to treat anybody, well, I'm afraid it's not the society that I was brought up in and I am bitterly disappointed with that," he told reporters.

"I still feel I was only called into this because being high-profile I add a bit of profile to the investigation," he said. "Really and truly this is absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with me."

"This club is completely transparent, is totally honest, there's nothing that goes on in this football club that shouldn't," Redknapp said.

"Everything that happened yesterday was a bitter disappointment to both me and my family. We were deeply hurt by the whole situation," he said.

"Why I couldn't just have got a phonecall and asked just to pop down the police station and have a chat about this I really don't know," Redknapp said.

Allegations about Redknapp were made in a BBC TV documentary on soccer transfers last year. He denied any wrongdoing and issued a writ against the BBC.

The documentary also made allegations about the then manager of Bolton Wanderers, Sam Allardyce, who has since moved to Newcastle.

He firmly denies wrongdoing and has refused to speak to the BBC since.

In June, after an extensive inquiry into Premiership League deals, Stevens named 17 transfers and five clubs. Transfers involving Chelsea, Middlesbrough, Bolton, Portsmouth and Newcastle have been highlighted in the report.

The City of London police took up the baton, though they are always keen to distance themselves from Stevens' inquiries. In July, officers raided Portsmouth club offices, confiscating computers, files and paper work.

The City of London police said the five arrested yesterday were being held on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud and false accounting.

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