Football: Spurs face payment allegations

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The Independent Online
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR were last night accused of breaching Football League rules by paying interest-free and tax-free loans totalling more than pounds 400,000 to at least 11 of their past and present players.

The claims came in a Granada TV World in Action report which said the money was in addition to pounds 106,000 in interest-free payments given to the current manager, Ossie Ardiles, during his time as a player at White Hart Lane in the early 1980s.

Spurs could now find themselves in trouble with the Premier League and could face heavy fines - or at worst compulsory relegation - if found guilty of the allegations.

The programme said the Inland Revenue, which launched an investigation into the club's affairs in 1991, now wanted a down payment of pounds 500,000 in back tax from the club.

Among the programme's allegations was that the England midfielder, Paul Gascoigne, had a pounds 30,000 interest-free loan waived when he left for Lazio with a pounds 70,000 ex gratia payment.

The allegations of financial irregularities were also said to include: a pounds 55,000 interest-free loan to the midfielder, Paul Allen, when he signed in 1985 - with a secret letter agreeing to pay it off tax-free when he left; a pounds 75,000 loan for the midfielder, Paul Stewart, which he was told he could keep if he did not seek a transfer; a pounds 50,000 interest-free loan for the Norwegian goalkeeper, Erik Thorsvedt.

Thorsvedt told the programme this had been waived this year when he signed a new contract with Spurs.

'I stayed in to watch World In Action, and now I wish I had not bothered,' Alan Sugar, the Spurs chairman, said. 'There was nothing new, just a rehash of old stories dredged up from years ago.

'We were asked to assist the World In Action team during the summer, when they seemed to be more interested in other personalities, but over the last few weeks they have changed their attitude, and started to have a go at Ossie. Nobody will admit to who or what changed their line of attack. My faith in Ossie Ardiles is as strong now as ever.'

Speaking before the programme, Rick Parry, the chief executive of the Premier League, said the WIA allegations 'are already part (of the Premiership Inquiry) as far as we are concerned. We have had a full disclosure from Tottenham to the inquiry.'

Parry, who sits on the investigating panel with Steve Coppell and Robert Reid QC, added: 'Whether Tottenham have disclosed everything shown on the programme remains to be seen, but they have told us about the problems with loans going back into the mid-1980s. We are not going to take any panic measures because it is already in hand.'

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