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BBC THREE investigation raises new questions for Manchester United

Category: BBC THREE; News
Date: 25.05.2004
Printable version

With the publication of Manchester United's internal review of recent transfer deals imminent, a BBC THREE investigation raises serious new questions about the business relationship between the club and Sir Alex Ferguson's football agent son, Jason.

Focusing on two of the transfer deals highlighted by the much documented '99 questions' produced by United's largest shareholders earlier this year, the programme, Fergie And Son (BBC THREE, Thursday 27 May, 9.30pm) reveals a series of key findings.

Asks serious new questions about Manchester United's £50,000 payment to L'attitude, where Jason Ferguson worked, for its role in the transfer of goalkeeper Massimo Taibi to Reggina, Italy, in 2000.

President of Reggina and Taibi's own agent tell the BBC they had no contact with L'attitude.

Reveals the startling payments made to agents in the Jaap Stam transfer to Lazio: uncovers for the first time that United paid Jason's business associate Mike Morris hundreds of thousands of pounds to sell Stam, while Elite were paid at the other end by Lazio.

Exposes how Jason Ferguson broke Fifa rules in a major Manchester United transfer.

Discloses for the first time that six current members of the United first team squad are now on the books of Jason's agency Elite.

Hears how Jason Ferguson has had privileged access to United players by being allowed into the United high security training ground.

In July 2000, goalkeeper Massimo Taibi was sold to Italian club, Reggina. L'Attitude, a football agency that Jason Ferguson was employed by, made £50,000 from their role in the sale.

Reggina's president, Pasquale Foti, however, tells the BBC that he had no contact with L'Attitude.

Asked if Reggina had dealt with Manchester United directly, Pasquale Foti says: "Yes. I didn't deal with anyone else apart from the player's agent - Fabio Paresi."

Asked by reporter Alex Millar whether he had met Jason Ferguson, Pasquale Foti replies: "No, the only Ferguson I know is Alex Ferguson. Any others I don't know."

The programme also hears from the player's agent, Fabio Paresi, about the transfer, who says: "Jason was not involved in the deal. So the deal has been made straight between me and Reggina and Manchester United. That's it."

Paresi adds: "Probably in this way, United needed Jason Ferguson's help in this deal for something else that was not discussing the contract or the player."

The programme also reveals the payments made to agents in the Jaap Stam transfer from Manchester United to Lazio in 2001.

Reporter Alex Millar discloses that Manchester United paid Mike Morris, a close business associate of Jason Ferguson, hundreds of thousands of pounds to act for them in the Jaap Stam move.

Fergie And Son shows that for Manchester United to sell an established world-class Dutch international, it took a fee of hundreds of thousands of pounds, paid by Lazio, to the manager's son's agency, and a fee of hundreds of thousands of pounds to Morris, whose fee was paid by United.

In an on the record phone conversation, Elite director Francis Martin tells Alex Millar about the Elite role in the transfer:

"Yeah. That was the first. that was the first deal that we did. At the time was (sic) a new company - new start. we asked the question, the deal got done. Lazio asked us - that's the thing. We didn't ask. It wasn't us selling the player. We were asked by Lazio to get the player."

Former Manchester United Chief Executive Office, Peter Kenyon, however, is on the record as saying that the club had no contact with Elite regarding the Stam deal.

The programme also speaks to the player's agent, Ton Van Dalen, who expressed surprise that Lazio paid Elite: "It sounds strange. It seems a lot of people made a lot of money for not a lot of work."

Irregularities surrounding the paperwork involved in the Stam deal are also exposed.

Fifa regulations stipulate that only a licensed agent is permitted to provide services to clubs in transfer arrangements, but the programme shows how Jason Ferguson personally provided services for Lazio without possession of a licence.

"I didn't do any of the negotiation. People can check my phone statements, because I wasn't involved. As long as there's a licensed agent's name on it and that person is the person who got paid, or his company got paid. Then, that's what the rules say," says Elite director, Francis Martin, whose name was on the official paperwork.

Despite the fact that manager Sir Alex Ferguson has a history of discouraging young players from signing with agents, the programme also reveals that Elite has a large chunk of Manchester United's first team squad on its books, including Roy Carroll, Quinton Fortune, Darren Fletcher, Danny Pugh, Mark Lynch and Eddie Johnson.

The programme also hears how Elite enjoy privileged access to the team's much guarded training ground.

Former player, Ashley Dodd, says: "I think because he's the manager's son that's a major factor. I think, so he'll come in [to the training ground] and talk to his players. He can come in whenever he can. Other agents would have to make an appointment."

Mike Morris spoke exclusively to reporter Alex Millar about his United deals. He revealed that he had been summoned to Old Trafford as part of the internal review.

He tells the BBC he was cleared: "They [United] interviewed me on the Tim Howard deal and everything was done above board. As I say there's no reprimands whatsoever. I had an interview in Manchester, they were only doing their job, they did it and it was satisfactory and that was that."

Morris also says he has had no contact from the FA or Premier league over the Howard deal: "I've not even had a phone call."

In light of the impending review of transfers at the club, Manchester United felt that: "It would be inappropriate to take part in the programme."

The programme also approached both Elite and Jason Ferguson, but they declined to comment.

Notes to Editors

If any of the above is used, BBC THREE's Fergie And Son must be credited.

The programme wil be broadcast on Thursday 27 May at 9.30pm.



Category: BBC THREE; News
Date: 25.05.2004
Printable version


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