This is about the last thing we wanted to hear â€“ that the BBC and almost every news channel is reporting that Police have raided three football clubs as part of an investigation into alleged corruption in football.
Newcastle United, Portsmouth and Rangers are believed to be the three clubs involved.
To be really clear – Newcastle United is definitely one of the clubs raided – and this is not good for the image of our club.
The operation is not said to be connected to Lord Stevens’ ongoing Quest inquiry into the Premiership and was totally independent.
Detectives from the economic crime unit at City of London Police are investigating allegations of corruption within football and its impact on owners and shareholders.
While the raids may not be connected to Lord Stevens inquiry as such – the BBC said today it had learned that information about the 17 player transfers had been passed on to the City of London Police by the Quest team. Last month, London Police arrested a 61-year-old man in Manchester on suspicion of money laundering.
So while the actions were not connected directly to the Stevens investigation it appears that information from the Quest inquiry was used by the London Police to identify what and whom they wanted to raid today. Search warrants were executed on the club premises and two homes between 0730 and 0900 BST.
A City of London Police spokesman said:
“We can confirm that search warrants were served at three football clubs and the homes of two individuals in connection with corruption in football and its impact on owners and shareholders.”
Newcastle United issued a statement confirming that indeed the club was visited by police.
Newcastle United can confirm that it was visited this morning (Monday, July 16) by the City of London Police.
The Club itself is not the subject of the investigation.
If the investigation by the City of London Police, or the ongoing internal review of operations by the Club’s new owners, show that the Club has been the victim of any criminal activity, the Club will take appropriate action.
A Northumbria Police spokesman also confirmed they were aware that an operation had been carried out by their London colleagues at St James’ Park.
The club is not involved with this – because it is the agents and others not connected to the club -that have had the suspect transfer dealings. However, it certainly hasn’t stopped the club’s name being dragged through the gutter every time these activities are mentioned.
As background to this disturbing story here are the transfers Newcastle were involved in – with the reasons the Stevens inquiry will not sign off on them:
- The inquiry has not been able to sign off two transfers involving Francis Martin. In the transfer of Albert Luque (to Newcastle United), the licensed agent acting on the clubâ€™s behalf was Eugenio Botas. However, the inquiry still has unanswered questions relating to possible payments made by Francis Martin, who Newcastle officials believed was working for the selling club.
- The following three other transfers remain uncleared: Emre BelÃ¶zoglu (to Newcastle); Jean-Alain Boumsong (to Newcastle); Amdy Faye (to Newcastle). Again we have found no evidence to suggest any irregular payments by or to club officials relating to the above transfers and Newcastle officials cooperated fully with the inquiry and gave full access to documentation. However, there remain inconsistencies in evidence provided by Graeme Souness (a former manager of the club) and Kenneth Shepherd (apparently acting in an undefined role but not as a club official) as to their respective roles in transfer negotiations.
The actual transfers involving Newcastle that require further investigation by Lord Stevens – after being identified as suspect – are specifically:
- Alberto Luque, Deportivo La CoruÃ±a to Newcastle United, Â£9.5 million, 2005
- Emre BelÃ¶zoglu, Inter Milan to Newcastle, Â£3.8 million, 2005
- Jean-Alain Boumsong, Rangers to Newcastle, Â£8 million, 2005
- Amdy Faye, Portsmouth to Newcastle, Â£2 million, 2005
This is indeed very bad news for the club. At a time when Mike Ashley, Chris Mort and Sam Allardcye are setting about not only to make Newcastle United a good team that can challenge for real honors – but also they have shown how good and efficient businessmen they are. Certainly the image of the club was on an upward spiral these last two months – and this is a blow to the image of the club.
While these things happened before the new regime came into power at St. James’ – they will possibly tie up Chris Mort and other executives at Newcastle for a lot longer than we’d like.
The best thing that can happen here is that this action by the police and any follow-up activities are executed quickly (but this is unlikely). Whoever has done any wrong-doing in these affairs obviously needs to be brought to justice as quickly as possible. But this inquiry and now other actions presumably attached to the evidence collected – has been dangling over English football for far too long – surely these investigations don’t take this long to bring to a conclusion.
We’ve got to think that Newcastle owner Mike Ashley must have choked on his lunch once he heard this news. This is simply not good for the Newcastle United club.