Cardiff City launch ‘fraud’ probe into summer transfer spending

Club fears former manager and head of recruitment committed double the agreed budget in transfer fees, wages and agents’ fees

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The Independent Football

Cardiff City fear their former manager Malky Mackay and former head of recruitment Iain Moody committed up to £90m in transfer fees, wages and agents’ fees – double the agreed budget – during their summer transfer window last year, which is the subject of a “fraud” investigation by the club’s lawyers.

The allegations accompany claims that Mackay and Moody swapped racist, sexist and homophobic text messages and emails, which the Football Association is investigating after the details were sent to the governing body over the last six days.

Having handed those messages to the FA, the club are also pursuing what they consider to be a considerable overspend on player recruitment in the summer before Cardiff’s single season in the Premier League.

Cardiff’s London law firm Mishcon de Reya has retained the services of Sir Keir Starmer, the former director of public prosecutions, to consider whether there is a case of fraud to be answered.

In a statement, the League Managers’ Association (LMA) risked ridicule by claiming that Mackay’s messages were “friendly text message banter”.

All eight transfers are under investigation from that period and it was for that reason that Mishcon de Reya obtained a High Court order to search Moody’s home in Balham, south London, earlier this year. It was on phones and computers seized then that the firm discovered the racist, sexist and homophobic messages – Mackay denies sexism and homophobia – revealed in the Daily Mail.

Moody resigned as sporting director of Palace today. Mackay’s agent, Raymond Sparkes, said his client was “stunned” by the allegations and intended to fight them.

The LMA issued a statement defending Mackay: “In the course of a search... of 10,000 private text messages sent to and from another member of staff during Mackay’s employment at Cardiff... it emerged that Malky had, it seems, sent a couple of one-line texts that were, with the benefit of hindsight, very regrettable and disrespectful of other cultures.

“These were two text messages sent in private at a time Malky felt under great pressure and when he was letting off steam to a friend during some friendly text message banter. That said, Malky believes he could and should have conducted himself better on these two isolated occasions.”

The content of the text messages will be an issue for the FA to rule upon. Its compliance department has requested all the available evidence from Cardiff, even though Mackay and Moody are not currently involved in football.

Palace’s search for a manager continues, with Chelsea coach Dermot Drummy under consideration. Former Tottenham manager Tim Sherwood has pulled out of the running.