Three days on, that stamp is still the major talking point in football, dominating the backpages and sports leads. Not that it was a stamp, of course. Poor Mario has been cruelly victimised by referees. I realise English isn’t his first language but he really has to get to grips with what ‘victimised’ actually means, as opposed to ‘stay on the pitch and score the crucial winning goal that could lead to the league title’. If it’s not Balotelli, then it’s Wenger’s troubles and the disgust of their fans at 10 years of top four finishes. How did they cope?
We’re grateful because it’s deflecting some of the unwanted attention directed towards another man who is as innocent as they are. It’s hardly news that Redknapp’s financial affairs may not be squeaky clean and this thankfully refers to alleged misdemeanours at another club. However, it’s a sad insight into the murky recesses of football finance. The revelation that Redknapp received commission on the profits from player sales at Portsmouth and perhaps other clubs is not new. It was mentioned in the Panorama documentary a few years ago. It’s part of his contract and is perfectly legal but that doesn’t make it right. He takes umbrage at bring called a wheeler-dealer, which is hardly the most severe insult he’s ever had to face, yet at Portsmouth it was in his interests to buy and sell players because he personally profited substantially. It’s not something that as a fan you would want or indeed expect to see in your manager’s contract as he appears in the media to say how hard he’s working for your club but funds are restricted so we have to sell before we buy. It’s legal but wrong.
There’s no suggestion that Redknapp sold players to line his pockets but it’s already apparent that he knew the personal worth of transfers, demanding 10% of Crouch’s mover, not the 5% stipulated in his new contract, which presumably he had readily agreed to. One reason why he’s done well at Spurs is that Daniel Levy will not give him his head when it comes to transfers. When Redknapp came to Spurs, I wrote a piece entitled ‘Levy is Redknapp’s Poodle’, that he had ceded control of the playing side to Harry as part of the deal to get us away from the bottom of the table. I’ve readily acknowledged on several occasions in the blog that I was wrong and that in reality Levy’s close supervision of the budgets has probably made Redknapp a better manager. It’s certainly kept Spurs on a sound financial footing and there is no way on earth that Levy would allow Redknapp to leave the club in the state he left Portsmouth and West Ham.
Mandaric on the other hand caves in straight away. You’re not entitled, Harry, but here’s a 6 figure sum in a Swiss bank account anyway. No wonder they lost money. It’s also a telling insight into the power HR can wield at a club. I suspect Manadaric didn’t get where he is today by being soft in business yet here’s the cash if you want it.
I’m sincerely and unreservedly grateful for what Redknapp given us this season and as I’ve admitted before, he can tell us about 2 points from 8 games as often as he likes because we were in an appalling state when he took over. However, I feel attached to the club, not him. My sole concern is for the shirt. His guilt is irrelevant – what I’m concerned about is the well-being of the club.
I knew it was coming but it was still a shock to read the twitter feed as the case opened. Twitter was riveting as the full extent of the Pakistani cricketers’’ crime were revealed, tweet by tweet, direct from the courtroom. Suddenly Redknapp was getting the same treatment. At the moment it’s a rather undignified spectacle as Harry tries to weasel out of it. First sign of a problem and it’s nothing to do with him. ‘I’ve done nothing wrong but if I did, it was all his fault’. I guess we all know the feeling of how 189k can slip our minds. Bit like that 22p in my Egg savings account. Months went by without me giving it so much as a passing thought.
Some of it is priceless. "Redknapp told a reporter, ‘I ain’t done nothing wrong…I ain’t done nothing wrong…there aint’ nothing crooked in it…’" Was that HR;’s audition for Bill Sykes? Or today, ‘Do I need 30 f***ing grand to avoid tax Rob, I mean 30 f***ing grand. I give you 30 f***ing grand.’ Comedy gold. It’s not a problem for him to have 30k lying around, apparently.
The club have supported him – executives have been conspicuous in court but the chairman has kept his distance, just in case – and of course this happened elsewhere. On the pitch, there was no hint of a problem on Sunday. In fact, Redknapp and his team were at their peak. We managed when he was in hospital recently but to be serious he must be under intense pressure. He can’t hide that. In the dressing room the professionals that they are will ignore and perhaps secretly admire his alleged ability to make the most of his cash. I doubt this bothers them. Perhaps he’s a figure of aspiration.
Whatever the outcome, it may remain novelty value. The public don’t see this as a potential crime as in stealing a substantial sum because it’s tax, and people somehow see that differently. Same for the jury – loveable cockney geezer or cold exploiter of tax loopholes, the very ones that have received so much negative coverage lately.
Also, Harry is the media’s darling. He’s always up for a quote, in return they protect their asset. I have no contacts in the know but someone who does told me that this perception is entirely accurate – basically he’s such good value they don’t want to turn against him. This may be tested if he’s found guilty. Also, Spurs are getting some fantastically positive publicity lately, rightly so. People who aren’t that keen on football want to talk to me about the team and how well we are playing. The media are raving about us. We’ve made a huge impression, breaking out of the stereotype of predictable Premier League football. We’ve earned it because of the way we have played and carried ourselves as a well-run club. It would be a shame if the trial took that away from us, just at the moment when so much is going right.
The real test could be the one element no one can control – opposition fans. If they get stuck in, whatever the result of the case, it will be directed at Redknapp but will follow us around for as long as he’s manager. Pleat was probably on his way out after his indiscretions, which were committed while he was at Spurs, but the taunts of the opposition fans hastened the process. We’ll see. I’m always proud of the shirt but now more than ever. I hope Harry doesn’t bring us down.