Football: How Fenton received pounds 45.000 after Haaland's move to Forest

Premier League inquiry into transfer dealings

The transfer of Alf-Inge Haaland from the Norwegian club Bryne to Nottingham Forest was a protracted affair. It began in October 1992 during the Brian Clough era but was not concluded until December 1993, when Frank Clark had taken over as manager.

The pounds 350,000 deal involved the Norwegian agent Rune Hauge, who was a key figure in the George Graham affair. The transfer involved Fenton receiving a payment of pounds 45,000 after he left the club. This is how the report describes that payment:

8.1 Although Mr Fenton told us that Mr Hauge contacted him at least once or twice a week whilst he was at Forest, after Mr Fenton left the club he told us that he did not speak to Mr Hauge until one evening in March 1994 when Mr Hauge contacted him on the telephone. Mr Fenton told us that the call came out of the blue. Mr Hauge told Mr Fenton that he would like to meet, and Mr Fenton told us that he drove down from Nottingham to meet Mr Hauge at the "Lancaster Gate Hotel" in London (a reference which we take to be to the Royal Lancaster Hotel, a hotel often used by Mr Hauge, although we do not consider the issue to be material to this report). Mr Hauge was in England to watch Arsenal FC play the home leg of a European game. Although Mr Fenton was not clear about the date, he was able to indicate in subsequent correspondence that this may have been the match between Arsenal FC and Torino, which took place on 15 March 1994.

8.2 Mr Fenton told us that at the time of the telephone call, Mr Hauge did not say why he wished to see him. He merely told Mr Fenton that it would "be to your advantage". Mr Fenton told the Inquiry that at the meeting itself Mr Hauge said he wished to pay Mr Fenton the sum of pounds 45,000. He told us that Mr Hauge indicated that the payment was as commission for help that Mr Fenton had given to him over the previous four to five years. Mr Fenton told us that the payment "came out of the blue". In a later statement, Mr Fenton has acknowledged that Mr Hauge informed him that the pounds 45,000 was payment, in part, as "commission" for the Haaland transfer.

8.3 Mr Fenton told us that, at the meeting in March 1994, Mr Hauge wrote down for him the details of whom Mr Fenton should contact to obtain payment of the pounds 45,000. Mr Hauge gave Mr Fenton the details of InterClub Ltd. Mr Fenton was told to speak to "Lisa" a reference to Ms Lisa Davey, then an employee of a company called Saffery Champness Management Intemational Limited, who are based in Guernsey and at that time acted on behalf of [Hauge's] InterClub Ltd. In his statement to the police, Mr Fenton said Ms Davey was also present at the meeting.

8.4 The Inquiry has seen a letter dated 22 March 1994 on the headed paper of Proman A/S from Mr Hauge to Ms Lisa Davey of Saffery Champness. The letter is headed "Re: Transfer of Alf-Inge Haaland: Payment of other commission. Our Conversation". The document authorises Ms Davey to pay pounds 45,000 to Mr Fenton as "other commission". The letter asks Ms Davey to make arrangements for the payment to Mr Fenton, stating: "Please also find the best practical way for him to receive the funds and send him a letter with your proposal." We have also seen handwritten notes taken by Mr Hauge which would suggest that pounds 90,000 was to be disbursed to "others" in relation to the Haaland transfer. We have seen no evidence to suggest whether the other pounds 45,000 was in fact paid to anyone or to identify the intended recipient.

8.5 Mr Fenton told us that after his meeting with Mr Hauge he got in touch with Ms Davey, and asked her to confirm the sum to him, which she did in writing. Subsequently, Mr Fenton told us that he telephoned Ms Davey and instructed her to account to him for pounds 5,000 which she did by cheque. Mr Fenton then asked for pounds 10,000 to be transferred from the InterClub account, and the remaining pounds 30,000 to be transferred into a French bank based in St Tropez. He also informed us that subsequently he spent some of the money on a holiday, and retained the rest. On another occasion, Mr Fenton has said that he received the final pounds 10,000 in two payments of pounds 5,000 each.

8.6 Mr Fenton told us that since the meeting at the Royal Lancaster Hotel in March 1994, he spoke to Mr Hauge only once more on the telephone, and had then discussed with him Mr Hauge's problems with the Norwegian authorities.

8.7 Although the Inquiry has requested that Mr Fenton make available to us copies of the correspondence by which Saffery Champness accounted to him for monies and also copies of relevant banking and other records relating to the same payments, Mr Fenton declined to do so on the basis that the relevant documents were with the Inland Revenue, who were conducting their own enquiry.

8.8 Mr Fenton told the Inquiry that there was never any suggestion that any part of this money ought to be paid on to Mr Clough or anyone else at Nottingham Forest. The Inquiry has seen no evidence to indicate that any payment was made to Mr Clough by Mr Hauge either in connection with the transfer of Mr Haaland or otherwise.

9. MR CLOUGH'S REACTION

9.1 It was some time after Mr Fenton received his payment from Mr Hauge in March 1994, that the Sunday Express printed an article suggesting that monies deriving from the Haaland transfer had found their way back to Mr Clough. Mr Clough appears to have read the article since according to Mr Gemmill [Archie Gemmill, one of the Forest back-room staff], shortly after the article appeared Mr Clough spoke to Mr Gemmill on that subject. Later, we heard that Mr Gemmill relayed the content of this conversation to Mr Clarke [Allan Clarke, another member of the Forest back-room staff] on the telephone. Mr Clarke told the Inquiry:

"[Gemmill] told me he had seen Brian Clough and that he was very upset reading in the newspaper today about the Haaland deal and where money had been passed over. I saw Brian Clough myself possibly a week or fortnight later when he himself told me that he had rang the club and asked to speak to Frank Clark who was not available so he spoke to Hill and he asked him what it was about. Hill had said that he would have to go across some time and explain it to him and [Clough] had told [Hill] he would be across here in half an hour...Hill had told [Clough] that it was something that Fenton had done totally on his own, and the boss told Hill...you go back to Forest, and you can tell the chairman and the manager that if I am implicated in any of this whatsoever I will [put you] all in jail...subsequent to that I understand that Fenton did go over to see Clough to apologise to him...No one was quite certain about who had the actual money that Fenton had got. The inference seemed to be that he had it all himself".

9.2 Mr Hill corroborated this account by Mr Clarke. He told the Inquiry:

"I got called up to Brian Clough's house when it came out in the paper accusing Brian of having the money and he sent for me and he said can you explain what this is all about and I had to explain to him and he should have turned up at 3 o'clock but he did not. He did not have any part in the deal, which he didn't."

9.3 When the Inquiry interviewed Mr White on 21 February 1995, the payment to Mr Fenton apparently came as a surprise to him even though by that time there had already been newspaper speculation on the issue and others at the club had already been in contact with Mr Clough about this. Mr O'Kane confirmed to the Inquiry that he knew nothing of a payment to Mr Fenton until it had appeared in the media. He expressed his surprise. For his part, Mr Fenton told the Inquiry that the media revelations regarding Mr Hauge's payment to him came as a "complete surprise".

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