The former Portsmouth chairman Milan Mandaric claimed that the tax evasion charges against him were an "insult" after 12 years in England in which he has rescued Portsmouth, Leicester City and Sheffield Wednesday from the brink of bankruptcy, a court heard yesterday.
Mandaric, 73, who, along with Harry Redknapp, denies two tax evasion charges, also said that the Tottenham Hotspur manager was "a moaner".
Mandaric told Southwark Crown Court: "He [Redknapp] has a tendency to moan and be unhappy. I love Harry to death but sometimes you have to know him well to forgive him some things. He goes on and on and on."
Giving evidence for the duration of yesterday's hearing, Mandaric said the case against him was "sad". The 73-year-old self-made multi-millionaire, who is now owner of Sheffield Wednesday, told the court that he had only ever shown a love for English football.
Mandaric said: "I came here 12 years ago with a love for the game and investing in Portsmouth, which was unbelievable, investing millions of my money. I paid a lot of taxes, I have paid £55m income tax over six years [at Portsmouth] and as much again over the last six years. I created a lot of jobs, I am respected by my employees, my friends and supporters, so to face something like this is sad. It is unfair and it is an insult to my family and friends, and to the thousands of supporters who know the chairman and what a good man he is. I didn't even know what evading taxes meant until the last four years. I didn't do stupid things when I was young, and [I worked] hard and didn't know if I was going to have enough money for food for my kids."
The prosecution claim that Mandaric and Redknapp sought to evade tax over two payments of £93,000 and £96,000 between 2002 and 2004, which was paid into Redknapp's Monaco account, named Rosie47. Redknapp left court yesterday and headed straight to White Hart Lane for last night's Premier League game against Wigan Athletic. It is anticipated he will give evidence in court today for the first time.
Mandaric told his defence counsel, Lord MacDonald QC, yesterday that he had personally paid off Portsmouth's debts upon buying the club and had done the same at Leicester and Wednesday. At Leicester he met debts to Customs and Revenue of £5m. At Wednesday he said he bought the club 24 hours before it went into administration thus taking the responsibility to pay creditors in full and had since invested £20m of his own money.
Despite his investment in English football clubs, Mandaric told the court that he did not live a typical existence for a man who, by his own admission was worth more than £100m. He said he did not have a private jet or a yacht. Mandaric said: "Why would I go to Harry and say 'let's go break the law'? He is a multi-millionaire too, we never had that sort of conversation, not in a million years."
John Black QC, for the prosecution, submitted that the Monaco payments were made in order to supplement the five per cent of the profit on the transfer of Peter Crouch to Aston Villa in March 2002 that Redknapp was paid by the club.
Redknapp had complained at the time that he should have been paid 10 per cent of the profits even though he had signed a new manager's contract entitling him to half that.
The case continues.