FA called in over Palace transfer

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THE FOOTBALL Association has been called in by Crystal Palace FC to investigate the mysterious circumstances surrounding the pounds 800,000 transfer of the Israeli team captain, David Amsalem.

Crystal Palace believed it had concluded a deal with the Israeli club Maccabi Nevealon to sign Amsalem for pounds 800,000 and announced last week that it had paid the first of three pounds 266,666 instalments.

However, a newspaper reported yesterday that Dany Sadon, Maccabi's treasurer, said the club had received none of the money.

Last week, responding to inquiries in China by The Independent, the club asked the FA to examine an apparent pounds 400,000 shortfall in the amount it had agreed to pay for two players and the amount the Chinese authorities were expecting to receive. That matter was resolved when the Chinese happily accepted the larger fee. The latest mystery, however, seems to be more complicated.

It now appears that the Israeli club is only an amateur outfit, which held Amsalem's registration while he played on loan for three years for another team, Beitar Jerusalem. He arrived at Palace during the summer.

In a statement last night, the First Division club, managed by the former England coach Terry Venables, said: "Crystal Palace Football Club has now completed its internal inquiry into the financial transaction of the transfer of David Amsalem and is forwarding the file to the FA in order to conclude matters."

A Palace source refused to say whether there was any suggestion of wrongdoing. "We have asked them to look at a file we have sent across," the source said. "How they choose to proceed with it is up to them."

Yesterday, Mr Sadon told the Daily Mail: "We have had no money at all from Crystal Palace. We are a small amateur club with a budget of only about pounds 15,000 so we would be very happy to have some money.

"I don't know why Crystal Palace have said that they have agreed to pay us all this money because we haven't seen it. If the money has been paid out to someone then we would like to find out where it has gone. We are definitely going to try to find out what has happened here because it does not seem correct."

After The Independent's revelations, Mark Goldberg, the Crystal Palace chairman, announced an audit of all transfers since he bought the club for pounds 23m in the summer. In that announcement, he said the pounds 266,666 had been paid to Maccabi Nevealon.

In a separate development, Portsmouth FC, the club formerly owned by Mr Venables, is at the centre of a police investigation into allegations of "bad business practice".

The Independent disclosed on Saturday how that inquiry is also looking into the transfers of a number of players from Australia. Mr Venables has always denied any wrong-doing.