Deceit, greed and incompetence

It took an independent inquiry to really blow the cover on the despicable Brown regime. Today's FAPL judgement proved what many had suspected for a long time. Our club has been run by a bunch of parasitical charlatans without any obvious business ethics.

I said at the time that the Argie deal smelt of rotten fish. I still say today that the decision to do that dodgy transaction coupled with that ridiculous attempted sale of our club to Kia Joorabchian set the scene for the disastrous season which may have its denouement tomorrow at Wigan.

Sure, it has often been a pleasure to see Tevez weave his magic, but we have a paid a heavy price in more ways than one. I'll go so far to say that with hindsight I wish that neither he nor his mate Mascherano had turned up last August in the East End.

The puppetmaster in all of this is Terry 'Reverse Midas Touch' Brown, the so-called West Ham fan whose personal PR mantra was that he was always acting in the best interests of West Ham United FC. If Mr Brown was a friend to our club, I'd hate to meet one of its enemies.

Long-term damage

I did listen to those who thought that Brown had done well to recruit Pardew and then get us back into the Premiership, but I never found their arguments convincing. For me, the bloke was never up to the job and always had his own agenda - personal enrichment without actually ever putting his hand in his own pocket to grow the club. Things went wrong, we sold. Things went well, we didn't buy. We were never going to progress under his leadership and he had to go. It was bitterly disappointing that it took so long to offload him.

I am not naturally vindictive by nature, but I now hope that Mr Magnusson, like Samuel L Jackson looks towards Ezekiel 25:17 - "And you will know that my name is The Egg and I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance" - for the ?5.5 million fine that has been landed on us. Go get your money back. That would be small recompense for the damage that Brown has done over many years and for all the cash he has milked out.

The contracts

There is no doubt at all that these contracts were set up so that third party companies would almost completely control the two players. Termination of contracts would be exercised solely by the third party companies with compensation being paid to the club - ?2 million in the case of Tevez if this happened in the January 2007 transfer window.

There are important issues at stake here. What this means is that Brown readily agreed to a situation where a third party could sell two players regardless of whether this would be in the footballing interests of the club. Disruption was not an issue for him. He also created an intolerable disciplinary situation where effectively two players were immune to sanction. We could not sell them. We could not end their contracts. Brown was readily giving away the club's rights for one reason and one reason alone - he was trying to stitch up a deal whereby he could trouser tens of millions of pounds.

He might argue of course that this was all to make the Kia deal happen and it wouldn't have been a problem if that had gone through. The end justified the means. That of course involves a quantum leap in assuming that Kia was the right man to take over our club. It is crystal clear that the Club's Legal Director (Scott Duxbury) and Club Secretary (Peter Barnes) had grave misgivings about the wisdom of that. Given Brown's record, who wouldn't have had those doubts?


But the most comical part about the contracts with the Argies was the point made by West Ham's legal counsel to the inquiry that the contracts were in fact not worth the paper they were written on as they amounted to a restraint of trade, unenforceable in our courts.

What was funny about this was that our club's own Legal Director did not spot that or indeed seek advice on that. The club believed that the contracts were valid and never suggested anything to the contrary to the inquiry. That was why we had to plead guilty to a prima facie breach of Rule U18 which prevents the ability of a third party to influence the policies of the club or performance of its team.

The discussions with the FAPL

The next part of this sorry saga is all about deception and trying to wriggle around the clear rules to do the deal which would give Brown the key to Kia's millions.

Scott Duxbury maintains that Jane Purdon, Secretary of the FAPL did not tell him on the 'phone that a deal which involved a third party having the ability to exercise a break clause in a player's contract was an infringement of Rule U18. Purdon says different, and like the inquiry panel, I'm inclined to believe her.

But what is somewhat difficult to believe is that Duxbury says that he was ignorant of the famous Rule U18. This is simply not credible. It amounts to an admission that a highly paid director responsible for the legal protection of the club has not acquainted himself with the rules in the context of a highly unusual transfer deal. If I were in his position I would know those FAPL rules by rote. I'd be reciting them in my sleep. He's either not telling the truth or he's incompetent.

Then enter stage left, our dear departed Brown henchman, Paul Aldridge. Don't worry about the third party ownership problem, says Aldridge, we'll do a side deal and not tell the FAPL. Pure deception.

Shhhhhh, it's legal

Astonishingly, Duxbury then says that he checked the rules and advised Aldridge that non-disclosure was acceptable. This is palpable nonsense. It is tantamount to me saying that I'll go and rob a bank, but it will be OK because I won't tell anybody. Then Duxbury subsequently denies (according to Purdon) the existence of the third party deal or ducks the question when directly asked if there is a side deal with Kia (according to Duxbury). I should point out for those who do not already known that Scott Duxbury remains employed by the club. I have to ask why this is the case.

Unsatisfied, the FAPL in the shape of its Chief Executive, then pops the question to Paul Aldridge. Is there a side deal or not with these players, it seems strange you have got them for free? Too right. Aldridge simply does not tell the truth.

Bad taste

Since the ruling has been announced, I've heard many express shock at the scale of the fine. I've heard others say that Chelsea and its 'tapping up' practices were just as bad. I will defend our club to the hilt, but like Eggy there was only one way to deal with this disgraceful affair. Hold your hand up and admit guilt.

This was a shameful chapter in our club's history and it has left a bad taste in the mouth. The good news is that we have moved on and the principal perpetrators are history, even though they have left with shed loads of money they did not deserve. For every West Ham fan, Mr Magnusson, I urge you to pursue the caravan park owner and get even with this duplicitous leech.

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