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Harry Redknapp Cleared of Tax Evasion; Will He Be Next England Manager?

Posted on the 09 February 2012 by Periscope @periscopepost
Harry Redknapp cleared of tax evasion; will he be next England manager?

Harry Redknapp. Photocredit: Curiouslyperistent

Harry Redknapp, the Tottenham Hotspurs manager, has been cleared of tax evasion over allegations that he accepted secret untaxed bonus payments from former Portsmouth chairman Milan Mandaric whilst he was manager of the club. The fortnight long trial has laid bare some of the operations of football management – for instance, that Redknapp had it written into his contract that he won a percentage of profits from when a player was sold. However, he has proved that the £189,000 placed in a Swiss bank account was an investment made by Mandaric – and hence no tax had to be paid on it.

“”It really has been a nightmare…. This was a case that should never have come to court,” said Harry Redknapp outside the court, quoted on the BBC.

“We have no regrets about pursuing this case, it was vitally important the facts were put in front of a jury. We accept the verdicts,” said Chris Martin of HMRC, quoted on the BBC.

Now, as Fabio Capello resigns as England manager over the Football Association’s decision to strip John Terry of the England captaincy, the way is clear for Harry Redknapp to step up to the plate. Spurs however say that it’s not a foregone conclusion, and are battling to hold onto their manager. Commentators are pointing up Redknapp’s qualities as a man of the people – and also his ability to evade serious questions about his financial probity. In the trial, he claimed hardly to be able to read and write – are we really to take him as an ingenue, or is he a much more serious player? A complex picture is emerging of a man who may well be England’s next manager; of football’s inner workings, and of Her Majesty’s Revenue and Custom’s general incompetence.

“I think Redknapp will be a very, very good choice. He’s English; he knows his football,” Sven-Goran Eriksson told BBC Sport.

Into the depths of football’s murkiness. Harry’s trial, said Paul Hayward in The Daily Telegraph, was “vivid theater.” And what it did bring up were some “awkward truths” about football. Redknapp painted the system of taking cuts from transfers as “a fair part of managerial life” – and this when the City’s taking a battering “for its bonus culture.” Though Redknapp has been recorded in print saying that the money in his Monaco account (“Rosie 47”, after his dog) was for selling Peter Crouch, he managed to persuade the court that he’d lied about it to The News of The World in order to avoid negative stories. Football’s become a multi-billion pound industry, and it’s taken this trial to make us “see what football so often lacks: transparency.”

Harry Houdini. But that transparency won’t make a darned bit of difference. Geoffrey Levy in The Daily Mail dubbed Harry Redknapp “Harry Houdini” for his ability to escape dangerous situations. He “represents the dreams and triumphs of the common man” to millions of football fans. He claims not to able to write letters, use computers or send emails – and yet, how is it that he manages to run a successful property company with his wife Sandra? Pierfront Developments made “a pre-tax profit of £1.75 million last year.” There have been controversies over the years – he left West Ham after questions about his personal involvement in 134 transfers. But still, his acquittal means he’s still “the people’s favorite to manage the England football team.” He shouldn’t have a problem in the most “perilous” job in football. “He isn’t known as Harry Houdini for nothing.”

Harry for England. Whether his bumbling nature is an act or not, said Hunter Davies in The Times, Harry was “true to character” during the trial. His arguments made little sense. He answered “questions nobody asked.” Spurs love him because “they feel he is one of them, an ordinary geezer.” There is something dodgy, however, about him taking a slice of transfer fees – it’s “not entirely ethical for a manager to make money from selling his own players.” But your “average fan” won’t care. Reporters love him because he tells the truth, “doesn’t spout sport psychology and avoids the usual clichés.” It’s this blokishness that will win him favours – and make it almost a cert that he’ll be the new England manager. “ ‘Arry for Ingerland.”

Harry against The Man. What a shame, said Andreas Whittam Smith in The Independent, that Harry Redknapp was a private individual rather than a large company when he came up against Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs. It’s a bloated, tired old organisation that loves to pick on individuals, but hates coming up against corporations. Their eyes must have lit up when they saw old Harry – with his bank account in Monaco, “the conclusion must have seemed inevitable.” But things are out of proportion – all that they could have got from ‘Arry was a six figure sum, “at most” – and this when corporations owe billions. Tax avoidance is a middle class hobby – but paying tax is “a moral duty.” And old Redknapp was “on the side of the little people and not remotely interested in the weasel manoevres of the men in suits.”

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