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Who's suing whom: Football club owners fall out over control

PETER JOHNSON, owner of both Everton and Tranmere Rovers Football Clubs, is being sued by his former business colleague Frank Corfe over the control of 86 per cent of Tranmere and pounds 6m in loans to that club.

Separately, Mr Johnson has already been ordered by the Football League to offload his holdings in either the Premiership club or the Division One side, since it is against League rules for one person to own more than one club.

Mr Johnson's dual ownership of both clubs only came to light in September, and he decided to sell his stake in Tranmere, which is losing pounds 1.5m a year. But Mr Johnson now faces a legal fight with Mr Corfe over financial control of Tranmere.

Mr Corfe bought 86 per cent of Tranmere's shares from Mr Johnson in June 1994. Since then Mr Corfe has made a total of 16 loans to Tranmere totalling pounds 6m.

In a writ issued by Mr Corfe's solicitors, Neil Myerson of Altrincham, Cheshire, last week, Mr Corfe claims that on 15 October Mr Johnson "wrongfully and in breach of the ... share agreement" reassigned the benefit of the loans and the share stake in Tranmere to a nominee company controlled by Mr Johnson.

Mr Corfe now wants the reassignments declared invalid and a court order to restrain Mr Johnson from selling the Tranmere shares without his permission.

SOHO HOUSE, an extremely fashionable club in Greek Street and the haunt of "It" girl Tara Palmer-Tompkinson, recently heard through its contacts that an individual called Tamlyn S Thompson claimed to have a membership list of the club.

Soho House issued a writ against Mr Thompson, of Artichoke Place, London, and was subsequently allowed by Mr Thompson to examine his list. This turned out not to be the same as the Soho House membership list, which is "highly confidential". The club then dropped its action.

A spokesman for the club explained that it has to be "extremely jealous of its membership list. We want to reassure people that it is confidential".

ALAN LINES, the former managing director of Marshall Specialist Vehicles, is suing the Cambridge-based defence vehicles maker for nearly pounds 370,000 for wrongful dismissal.

Mr Lines claims he was summoned to the chairman's office on 9 October, and that Michael Marshall then sacked him without any warning whatsoever. Mr Lines says this was despite the fact that his contract contained a two-year notice period.

Mr Lines says he was escorted from the building by a security guard and a director, and that a security man then searched his car, in full view of other staff.

Nigel Tait of Peter Carter-Ruck and Partners, Mr Lines' solicitors, says that his claim is for pounds 369,949.26 plus damages for "slander by gesture - a highly unusual claim".

Marshall, a privately owned family firm, has said it intends to defend the action.

THE NEXT rugby World Cup in Cardiff is still a year away, but already a corporate hospitality firm is locked in dispute with Cardiff Rugby Football Club over space in which to entertain guests.

Pall Mall Corporate Hospitality says it agreed a fee with the Cardiff club to use a section of car park next to the National Stadium, the main venue for the 1999 World Cup. The car park would covered with a marquee and used to wine and dine corporate rugby followers.

The club's ground is right next door to the National Stadium, formerly Cardiff Arms Park.

Pall Mall also had an option to take the rest of the car park. Then, so Pall Mall claims, another hospitality firm stepped in and bid for the entire car park - and was accepted. Mike Burton, a former England rugby international and leading rugby agent, was left with the entire site.

"This threw our original bid out the window," says Bill Dubey, a director of Pall Mall. He says Cardiff then offered some of their own hospitality suites, but these were not suitable. Pall Mall is now demanding a six- figure sum in damages from Cardiff.