Football: Case of pounds 45,000 on an Icelandic trawler

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The Independent Online
Perhaps the most remarkable story to emerge from the report is the transfer that is alleged to have concluded with the payment of pounds 45,000 brought in a fishing box by an Icelandic trawler for a rendezvous in Hull.

It concerns the move made by Thorvaldur Orlygsson from the Icelandic club Akureyrar to Nottingham Forest in December 1989.

The inquiry was told that the deal did not involve agents or intermediaries, and that all Forest's negotiations were conducted by their manager at the time, Brian Clough, and his assistant, Ronnie Fenton (although the inquiry was unable to interview Clough about the matter).

When the deal was first set up in October 1989, the fee proposed was pounds 150,000, but by the time the details were finalised, the figure had increased to pounds 174,000, a fee paid on 5 December. (The player himself agreed to terms of pounds 500 per week, which would later rise to pounds 700 per week.)

Also on 5 December, Fenton flew to Iceland to, in his words, "finish the deal". The report says Fenton "was unable to explain why the money had been transferred before the deal was finished. He was adamant he had not brought any money back with him: he told us he only brought back two artificial Christmas trees."

Fenton said that it was while he was in Iceland that the asking price was increased, that he telephoned Clough about it, and that Clough had agreed to pay more.

Akureyrar also said that the fee was increased from pounds 150,000 to pounds 174,000 at that time and the club denied that the fee had been agreed before Fenton's arrival in Iceland.

The suggestion that Fenton received pounds 45,000 "in a fishing box off a trawler in Hull" was made by Allan Clarke, a member of the Forest back-room staff.

The mode of payment - on board a trawler - although not the exact amount was supported by two other members of the Nottingham Forest back-room team, Archie Gemmill and Graham Lyas. Lyas told the inquiry: "We heard there was a trawler coming from Iceland, how true it was I don't know. Certainly I think Mr Fenton had to go to Hull to collect some money."

Fenton denies receiving any money for the deal, either in Iceland or England, while Forest say the only money paid was to Akureyrar, and Akureyrar insist no money was paid to any individual concerning the transfer.

The inquiry acknowledges "the clear possibility that `club gossip' is unreliable", but it also points out a number of causes for concern emerging from the case, among them "the persistence of stories that Mr Fenton collected a substantial cash payment from the transaction".

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