(I’ll never be able to watch this film the same way again)
Birmingham City owner David Sullivan and managing director Karren Brady were amongst the latest in high profile figures arrested in connection with an ongoing investigation into improper payments to player agents. Both, as you’d suspect, proclaim their innocence. From the Independent’s Glenn Moore :
Yesterday, Birmingham, which is traded on the AIM market, asked for shares in the club to be suspended prior to the opening of trading. After issuing a ‘clarifying’ statement trading resumed in early afternoon. Shares, which were selling at 35.5p until the suspension, remained stable.
In a statement Birmingham City FC said: “We wish to clarify the situation regarding the City of London investigation. The City of London Police investigation is focusing on payments to a football agent and two players, dating back to 2002/2003.
“There is absolutely no allegation that any director of the company or the club itself have benefited financially from any of this activity. In so far as there may be any implications for the company, these are not considered material to its financial affairs and they are in relation to the payment, or possible non payment of PAYE and National Insurance contributions.
“The club and its directors are co-operating fully with the police in this investigation and will continue to do so. For the avoidance of doubt we wish to make it plain that David, Karren and Birmingham City FC deny absolutely any wrong doing.”
Privately the pair are said to be angry that they are becoming embroiled in the investigation, especially being associated with such a pejorative phrase as ‘corruption in football’. Brady, 39, is a highly respected businesswomen, a pioneer in a male-orientated game. Sullivan, 59, while less respected having made his fortune through selling pornography and the Sport newspapers, is very successful.
Police interest is reported to revolve around the signing of Aliou CissÃ©, a Senegalese international bought from Montpellier, and another African player. Both played in the 2002/03 season, Birmingham’s first in the top flight since 1986.
The club had said on Wednesday the arrests were to meet a “long-standing appointment” with the police, and were “willingly attended”. However, Sullivan is not thought to have expected to have his home searched.