WIDEBOY agent Barrry Silkman got himself into an undignified slanging match on Sky Sports News as he defended himself after being “named and shamed” by Lord Stevens in the bung busting inquiry report. He accused the former top cop of being “a 100% liar”, blustered about litigation and being a scapegoat then – after being asked how much he made from the Fabio Rochemback deal – he became increasingly emotional, inarticulate and aggressive in a manner that belied any notion that he was smooth-talking deal-maker.
My heart sank. How could clubs – how could Boro – get involved with people like this? Even if he hasn’t done anything illegal, and the questions at present revolve around failure to fully disclose the paperwork over some of his deals and illustrate the papertrail between himself and ‘so-called super-agent’ Pini Zahavi in the Yakubu transfer rather than any specific offence, even if he is a squeaky clean he is still a smarmy, brash, rude and dislikeable individual. He was Boro’s agent of choice for several seasons but thankfully that relationship was severed last year… although the club are now having to deal with the fallout that has come with that relationship.
Silkman gave a completely ill-advised telephone interview on Sky Sports within 15 minutes of the report being published in which he almost melted down. Rather than legalistic defnsive caution he lost the plot and lost his dignity and made a highly libellous attack:
“He’s an absolute total liar, whoever he is Lord Stevens is a liar, these people are liars 100 per cent. I went to see them with my lawyer, I showed them every single thing that went in and out of my account. To question me if they are saying there is something wrong with what iÃ¢ÂÂve done in the Fabio Rochemback deal, ie. a bung or something illegal, letÃ¢ÂÂs go to court or the High Court and let them say that iÃ¢ÂÂve done something wrong in that deal because I promise you if they do that I will begin litigation and do everything in my power to discredit them. I have done zero wrong, IÃ¢ÂÂm a man of integrity.”
Incredibly this horrible man was Boro’s agent of choice for several seasons – after Steve Gibson had severed relationships with a string of other agents who had demanded unusual or unjustified commissions there were very few left to work through – but thankfully that link was severed last year… although the club are now having to deal with the fallout that has come with that relationship and from the two deals named in the controversial report.
First it must be stressed that there is no question that Boro have been involved in any wrong-doing. The conduct of the club is not at issue. Their name is raised in connection with transfer deals that the commission were not happy with because there were gaps in the paperwork, or there was no clear forensic breakdown of how, where and when paymenst were made.
The inquiry was not prepared to sign off the ÃÂ£7.5m Yakubu move to Boro because Zahavi, who had masterminded a complex deal that involved a joint ownership between Portsmouth and the players’ former Israeli club, failed to explain his role and reward in a transfer that it has been widely reported he stands to make ÃÂ£3m from:
“Zahavi has failed to co-operate fully with the Inquiry. There was an initial failure to disclose his involvement in a number of transfers but, more seriously, he has failed to provide the Inquiry with complete bank statements due to the confidential nature of them. There remain questions relating to his relationship with and payments to Barry Silkman and Barry SilkmanÃ¢ÂÂs failure to initially disclose his involvement in all the transactions in which he received fees.”
The same relationship between the two agents acted in the move of Rochemback from Barcelona two Summers ago and the panel found the same problems of a lack of transparency, and a refusal to answer their questions about the structure of the deal.
That sounds bad and Boro fans who have a residual distrust of the football authorities and a fear that any transgression on the club’s part will inevitably lead to apoint deduction should have no fears. The report expressly states: “there is no evidence of any irregular payments to club officials or players and they are identified here only as a consequence of the outstanding issues the Inquiry has with the agents identified.”
What it does show is that the shadowy world of agents and fixers is a parastitcal one that leeches money from the game, from the players, from the clubs and ultimately from the fans. Let us hope that this report can galvanise the political will within teh game to finally act to crack down on illicit payments, back-handers and the widespread funnelling of cash through multiple bank accounts to deceive the authorities and to avoid paying tax.
Here’s the full text of the summary of the key findings in the final report:
The Inquiry submits its latest findings in this matter below. All findings are based on our latest information and of course if further information is obtained by the relevant authorities the precise position may alter. We would urge those individuals named here to now fully co-operate in order to assist with resolving all matters.
In the following paragraphs, to assist in understanding where relevant jurisdiction may lie in these matters, individuals will be identified in the first instance as being a Licensed Agent under The FAÃ¢ÂÂs jurisdiction (LA) or a FIFA Licensed Agent under the jurisdiction of a foreign national association (FLA) or an Unlicensed Agent (ULA).
The inquiry is not prepared to sign off the remaining 17 transfers for the following reasons:
1. Pinhas Zahavi (FLA) has failed to co-operate fully with the Inquiry. There was an initial failure to disclose his involvement in a number of transfers but, more seriously, he has failed to provide the Inquiry with complete bank statements due to the confidential nature of them. There has also been a lack of responsiveness by Zahavi. There remain questions relating to his relationship with and payments to Barry Silkman (LA) and Barry SilkmanÃ¢ÂÂs failure to initially disclose his involvement in all the transactions in which he received fees.
The Clubs, Club officials and players listed below all co-operated fully with the Inquiry and provided full documentation (including bank statements where requested). There is no evidence of any irregular payments to Club officials or players and they are identified here only as a consequence of the outstanding issues the Inquiry has with the agents identified.
As a result, the following transfers remain uncleared:
i) Collins Mbesuma (to Portsmouth FC)
ii) Ayegbeni Yakubu (to Middlesbrough FC)
iii) Fabio Rochemback (to Middlesbrough FC)
iv) Didier Drogba (to Chelsea FC)
v) Petr Cech (to Chelsea FC)
The Inquiry recommends that FIFA are asked to launch their own inquiry into the conduct of Mr Zahavi based on the evidence obtained.
2. Despite his co-operation, the Inquiry has concerns regarding the involvement of Craig Allardyce (at the time a Licensed Agent) in a number of transactions at Bolton Wanderers FC. Mr Gartside and officials currently at the Club have fully co-operated and the Inquiry has found no evidence or suggestion of any irregular payments to them. However, the following three transfers in which Craig Allardyce was involved remain uncleared:
i) Ali Al-Habsi (to Bolton Wanderers FC)
ii) Tal Ben Haim (to Bolton Wanderers FC)
iii) Blessing Kaku (to Bolton Wanderers FC)
In respect of i) above, the Inquiry also has remaining concerns about the involvement of Peter Harrison (LA) and his relationship with Craig Allardyce.
In respect of ii) and iii) above, the Inquiry has remaining, unanswered concerns about the involvement of Jamie Hart (LA) and David Abou (ULA).
In the additional transfer of Julio Correia, the Inquiry has remaining, unanswered concerns regarding the involvement of the following agents in this transfer: Mike Morris (FLA), Eugenio Botas (FLA) and Francis Martin (FLA) and the possible involvement of Craig Allardyce.
The Inquiry remains concerned at the conflict of interest that it believes existed between Craig Allardyce, his father Sam Allardyce (the then manager at Bolton Wanderers) and the Club itself.
The Inquiry recommends that The FA continue with their investigation into these matters, assisted by the considerable information gathered by Quest. The Inquiry also understands that the Bolton Chairman, Mr Gartside, is prepared to share the results of the ClubÃ¢ÂÂs own detailed investigation with the football authorities to assist in this matter. We welcome this development.
3. The Inquiry has still not been able to sign off a further two transfers (in addition to the one listed above) involving Francis Martin.
In the transfer of Albert Luque (to Newcastle Utd FC), the Licensed Agent acting on the ClubÃ¢ÂÂs 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.
In the transfer of Michael Essien (to Chelsea FC), again there is no evidence to suggest any irregular payments to Club officials or the player, who all co-operated fully with the Inquiry providing full access to documentation (including bank statements) as requested.
However, questions remain unanswered as to the relationship between Francis Martin (buying Club agent), Mike Morris, Fabien Piveteau (playerÃ¢ÂÂs advisor) and Thomas Belsoeur (FLA).
Again, the Inquiry recommends that The FA and FIFA continue to investigate these matters in the light of the substantial information already obtained by Quest.
4. The following three other transfers remain uncleared:
i) Emre Belozoglu (Emre) (to Newcastle United FC)
ii) Jean Alain Boumsong (to Newcastle United FC)
iii) Amady Faye (to Newcastle United FC)
Again we have found no evidence to suggest any irregular payments by or to Club officials relating to the above transfers and Newcastle United officials co-operated fully with the Inquiry and gave full access to documentation (including bank statements) as requested.
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.
In relation to i) above, the Inquiry is not prepared to clear this transfer as it has been unable to obtain the co-operation of the lead agent, Ahmet Bulut (FLA).
In relation to ii) and iii) above, these transfers involved payments to Willie McKay (FLA) and, despite a degree of co-operation from Mr McKay, the Inquiry is still awaiting clarification in relation to various documents provided by him.
5. Willie McKay acted for the selling Club, Auxerre, in the transfer of Benjani Mwaruwari (into Portsmouth FC) and for the Portsmouth FC themselves in the transfer in of Alliou Cisse and, for the same reason as above, the Inquiry is not prepared to clear these transfers at this stage. In relation to the first of these, the Inquiry also has identified concerns regarding the role of Teni Yerima (FLA) and Ralph NÃ¢ÂÂKomo in the transfer negotiations.
In relation to points 4 and 5, again the Inquiry recommends that The FA and FIFA continue to investigate this matter in light of the information obtained by Quest and that further powers are used to ensure co-operation.
6. There is one other transfer that the Inquiry has been asked by another regulatory authority not to specify in order that its investigations should not be prejudiced by revealing the identity of the transfer. The Inquiry, of course, is compelled to respect this request.
7. In the course of the Inquiry a further matter has become evident that the Inquiry believes should be considered by the Football Authorities. Willie McKay provided information that he had registered a race horse in the name of Harry Redknapp. Harry Redknapp has confirmed that this could well have happened though it was a very unsuccessful horse that resulted in no material gain or reward for him. There is no evidence that this transaction is related to any specific transfer, more a consequence of a long term personal association. Inquiries into this matter should continue.