If Only Phil Gartside Were Alive to See This…

Case_All2It seems like a long time ago – but then it is.  At the back end of 2011, Manny Road published an interview with football agent Tony McGill.

McGill alleged that he’d been cut out of a deal that took Gavin McCann from Aston Villa to Bolton, after having done all the leg work.  His initial legal action against Bolton failed, because he did not have a written contract with McCann. However, his appeal this week was successful and he is now entitled to damages from the club.

The original article is published in full below, including the title – a direct quote from McGill. It may seem harsh, now that Phil Gartside is no longer around to defend himself, but he had ample opportunity to do so at the time and chose not to.  Even when dragged into court, his rambling and contradictory evidence was deemed to be “unsatisfactory” according to judge David Waksman.

While reaction to the article was mainly positive, there were some of Bolton’s more cerebrally challenged fans who took exception to it.

wwaysEven the cesspit that is WanderersWays.com, a collection of sanctimonious, anally obsessed window lickers, too lazy and too stupid to get their facts right, decided to pull the above thread when it was suggested that this supporter’s house be burned down.

There was also the claim that prank calls had been made to the Gartside household, that still surfaces now and then.  One poster repeated that lie on this very site.  He was quickly identified by the IP address left behind.  A less civilised person might have informed his employer that he was making libellous statements on company time.  Yes Neil, that’s you.

Tony McGill’s version of events has now been accepted as true by the court and Manny Road’s decision to publish has been completely and utterly vindicated.

And now, from 2011…

Phil Gartside: “A Cheat, a Liar and a Fraudster”

Gavin McCann.  Not a name to make you sit up and take notice, although he was a solid enough performer for the most part.  Yet if allegations surrounding his signing prove to be true, the midfielder may emerge as a highly significant figure in the history of Bolton Wanderers.

The decision to sign McCann was taken by Sam Allardyce, and the deal was brokered by Tony McGill, a football agent of eleven years standing, who was more recently involved in the transaction that took James Milner from Aston Villa to Manchester City and Stephen Ireland in the opposite direction.

McGill had meetings with then first team coach Ricky Sbragia and scouts Dave Worthington and Jack Chapman, all of whom were in agreement that the signing was a suitable one.  After Allardyce left, it was decided to press ahead, with new general manager Frank McParland handling the detail. In all, the process took over six months.

So far, so ordinary, but then McGill describes what appears to be strange turn of events, in which Bolton chairman Phil Gartside took a central role.

“The night before the deal I got a call off Gavin McCann to say there’s another agent doing the deal.  The night before, I couldn’t believe it,” he says.

“Gartside said to my solicitor that he did the deal himself, there was no other agent involved. I went to court, to get all the legal documents because Bolton wouldn’t give us any information.

“I then went to court and got disclosure, then discovered that Gartside had employed another agency to work on behalf of Bolton to do what, nobody knows. He paid them £300,000.  For nothing.  For doing absolutely no work at all. ”

According to McGill, his protests led to further questionable behaviour.

“When I complained, somebody altered the contract date to backdate it a week, to show that they’d done some work. We’ve got a photocopy of the document, where the date’s been changed to backdate it, because contracts have to be lodged before the event and this wasn’t.

“And, the agency concerned used an unlicensed agent to do the deal – Dave Sheron.  He went to Bolton, the day he signed to do the deal.  There was nothing to do.”

The agency was SEM – Sport, Entertainment and Media Group.  SEM is headed by Jerome Anderson, who was associated with Manchester City during Thaksin Shinawatra’s ownership of that club and with the Venky’s takeover at Blackburn Rovers.  He’s also Owen Coyle’s agent.

On a deal like the one with McCann, the commission would normally be in the region of 5%. Yet the sum of £300,000 paid to SEM represents 30% of a £1 million transfer fee.

Legal action followed.  McGill sued McCann for breach of contract, with the player settling out of court in November 2009.  He has an ongoing claim against SEM.

However his complaint to the FA, where Gartside is a board member, was not acted upon. “The FA looked at this transfer deal, found that there was serious wrong doing, passed it over to their legal department and it’s been squashed,” he explains.

McGill asserts that the FA’s legal team didn’t even reply to his query, which is at odds with Gartside’s statement on Twitter last week –  “…one side of a story and old news been investigated by authorities. Club and officers cleared of any wrong doing.”  It’s doubtful that the agent would agree with that assessment.

“I’ve written to Phil Gartside on several occasions and texted him and I’ve called him a cheat, a liar and a fraudster,” he declares.

“I’ve got evidence of him changing the contracts going to the FA.  We’ve physically proved that it was impossible for that date on the contract to be valid because nobody was there on that day.

“I’ve written to the sports minister Hugh Robertson, and he’s written back or e-mailed me back to say that he has given the FA until February 29th to completely reshuffle the place and to clean their act up, especially the compliance unit or he’s going to legislate against them.”

Until then, Manny Road has a few questions for Phil Gartside.  We’ll be more than happy to publish his side of the story.

What services did SEM provide that caused you to pay them £300,000?
Why was a commission of 30% paid, when the going rate is 5%?
Has Bolton been involved in any other deals where the agent was changed at the last minute?
Why was the date on the McCann contract changed?
Who changed it?
As a member of the FA board, how will you, and they, ensure impartiality in any enquiry?
From him leaving the club in 1995, until rejoining as Bolton manager, you spoke to Owen Coyle just once.  What was it that led you to recommend him to Burnley as their manager?
– Richard McCormick




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