Football tycoon sues `wasteful' son

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The Independent Online
SIR JACK HAYWARD, one of Britain's richest men, is suing his son over alleged financial irregularities at the football club on which he once admitted spending his children's inheritance. Lawyers acting for the owner of Wolverhampton Wanderers have filed papers relating to the movement of three sums of money totalling pounds 237,400 while his son Jonathan was club chairman.

The family feud is the latest manifestation of Sir Jack's passion for Wolves. Since 1990, when the multi-millionaire who is listed as Britain's 125th richest man bought the Midlands club for pounds 2.1m, he has spent pounds 40m on new stands and players in an attempt to fulfil his dream of winning the FA Cup before he dies. Papers filed at the High Court show that Wolverhampton Wanderers Football Club (1986) Ltd, Wolverhampton Wanderers Properties Ltd and WW (1990) Ltd are suing Jonathan Hayward, aged 31, James Nicholas Stones, a solicitor, and his firm, Wiggin and Co. Sir Jack is chairman and president of Wolves.

Sir Jack made Jonathan, the younger of his two sons, chairman of the club shortly after he bought it, but relations between the two have cooled since the autumn of 1997 when Jonathan was demoted to deputy chairman. He resigned from the club at the end of the 1997-98 season.

Sir Jack shocked television viewers when he rounded on his son and Mark McGhee, the former club manager, last year, shouting: "They think Golden Tit - me - will go on forever. It's blackmail. Money has been wasted." Jonathan refused to discuss the litigation yesterday at his farm in Tweed, Northumberland. When asked whether he was on speaking terms with his father, he replied: "I don't want to make any comment at all."

The writ claims that three resolutions "purportedly passed" at board meetings in March 1997, May 1995 and August 1995, "approving the repayment to WW (1990) Ltd of [money], are of no legal effect." It alleges that the repayments - of pounds 100,000 in March 1997, pounds 37,400 in May 1995 and pounds 100,000 in August 1995 - were made "without legal authority". Further, Sir Jack's legal team argue that resolutions at three board meetings relating to the repayments "are of no legal effect".

They are demanding that Jonathan accounts for the amounts received and "for all benefits and profits derived therefrom" and they are seeking damages and compensation for "breaches of fiduciary duty".

Jonathan Hayward and James Stones were directors of the club at the time the movements of money were authorised and it is understood they are to contest Sir Jack's claims. But a full explanation in court is not expected for several months.

There was also no explanation from Wolves as to the nature of the alleged irregularities. The club said Sir Jack - who is at present in the country - had authorised staff to "make absolutely no comment whatsoever". Wiggin and Co, too, refused to comment, although Mr Stones, its senior tax partner, said: "Both Jonathan Hayward and I have a complete answer to the allegations."