Could Former Tottenham Defender Cost Chelsea Premier League Title?

Stamford Bridge side could be found guilty of dealing with unlicensed agent who just happens to be a former White Hart Lane defender!

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Sports - November 11, 2007

Shaun Wright-Phillips and Chelsea face questions over unlicensed agent
• Claims that unlicensed go-between helped set up 2005 deal
• FA investigating, with fines or even points deduction possible

The Football Association is considering whether Shaun Wright-Phillips and Chelsea could face charges for dealing with an unlicensed agent, Mitchell Thomas, when Wright-Phillips moved to Stamford Bridge from Manchester City in July 2005. The investigation by the FA follows the outcome of a case brought by the Law Society against a solicitor, Timothy Drukker, who signed off the paperwork in the Wright?Phillips deal but paid Thomas part of the £1.2m fee which Chelsea paid him.

If the FA does find that Thomas, the former Tottenham Hotspur and Luton Town defender, was involved in negotiating the deal, they could bring charges against Wright-Phillips and Chelsea. Penalties range from warnings to fines and even points deductions.

The Wright-Phillips transfer is the 17th deal, previously unidentified, handed over to the FA by Quest, the investigators the Premier League hired to conduct the so-called “bungs inquiry” into transfers by its clubs between 1 January 2004 and 31 January 2006. Quest cleared all the other deals, but said more inquiries should be made into No17. At the time, the Wright-Phillips deal was not identified because the Law Society had begun proceedings.

They only reached their conclusion in January, with a finding by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal that Drukker was guilty of “conduct unbecoming a solicitor” during the transfer and in “misleading” Quest when they made inquiries. He was fined £15,000, the tribunal having decided there was no dishonesty on his part but that Drukker’s actions “had resulted in the undermining of the Fifa regulations”.

Drukker himself told the tribunal he had been asked by “parties close to Shaun Wright-Phillips” to act as his agent when the details of the move to Chelsea had been agreed. Drukker was paid a fee understood to be £1.2m, did not keep any of it and paid it to others including Thomas.

The FA has been taking a strong stance against unlicensed agents in recent years, because it sees licensing as crucial to its ability to regulate the multimillion-pound flows of money in transfers. Chelsea paid City £21m for Wright-Phillips, a huge sum that summer and vital for City who were struggling financially. (Guardian)

This doesn’t look too good for Chelsea but I find it highly unlikely that anything more serious than a slap on the wrists or a nominal fine will be the order of the day if the Blues are indeed found guilty of using unlicensed agents.

The FA may well be trying to get a grip on shady goings on in the transfer market but it seems that dodgy deals will continue to occur just as long as no real penalties are handed out. Clearly the game would do well to rid itself of agents entirely but it seems the game has gone too far down that road to be able to turn back.

I think fans and managers alike could do without the slug like existence of player representatives but what can be done to alleviate a problem that appears to be so endemic as to be unstoppable.

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