Mandaric can sleep easy after 'horrible dream'


The two men who hugged in the dock of Court Six yesterday have had their differences – Milan Mandaric called Harry Redknapp's move from Ports-mouth to Southampton a "bitter divorce" – but their friendship has remained intact throughout years of suspicion and accusation. At its conclusion the "odd couple", as one defence barrister called them, struck a similar chord. Redknapp's "nightmare" was Mandaric's "horrible dream".

Mandaric is a man who has made a habit of getting things right, although he has explained his arrival at a multibillion-pound fortune established during the Silicon Valley boom of the 1970s as "being in the right place at the right time". Two years ago when he was charged with the offence of which he was yesterday cleared, Mandaric put the case against him as "ridiculous". "There is no wrongdoing here," he declared. He has been proved right again.

This was the second trial the 73-year-old has faced. In October he and Peter Storrie, then Portsmouth's chief executive, were found not guilty of tax evasion. Mandaric was first arrested in 2007, on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud and false accounting while at Portsmouth. He was released without charge but it was the beginning of a route to yesterday's finale.

Mandaric's personal journey is remarkable. It has taken him from a wartime childhood hiding in the mountainous Croatian region of Lika to Oadby, a small town in Leicestershire that used to produce red noses for Comic Relief. His business career began when he took over his father's engineering business before leaving Marshal Tito-ruled Yugoslavia for Switzerland and then the US. His breakthrough came when his fledgling company won a contract to make keyboards for Apple.

From that his business grew to employ 50,000 and allowed its now wealthy owner to indulge in what was then promising to be another boom US business, the North American Soccer League. Mandaric set up San Jose Earthquakes and was instrumental in bringing George Best and Bobby Moore to play in NASL.

When the US soccer revolution fizzled out, Mandaric took out stakes in Standard Liège, Charleroi and Nice before paying £5m to buy Portsmouth in 1998. Alan Ball, Tony Pulis, Steve Claridge and Graham Rix came and went as managers before Redknapp arrived in 2002. Mandaric was popular among fans before his decision to sell to Alexandre Gaydamak for £47m in 2006. Since Mandaric left, Pompey have gone from one financial crisis to another.

In 2007, Mandaric bought Leicester City, selling out three years later to a Thai consortium. In December 2010, he bought Sheffield Wednesday for £1, saving the club from administration.

"It was," summed up Judge Anthony Leonard, "an extraordinary life story." And, with yesterday's outcome, there is no sign of an imminent ending to its English football chapter.

Bit-part players: Six others arrested

Pascal Chimbonda

Arrested, never charged

The much-travelled French full-back was the first person arrested in the corruption probe in September 2007. Chimbonda, 32, was questioned in relation to an £18,000 loan from his agent, Willie McKay, following his move to Britain to play for Wigan in 2005. Now at Doncaster Rovers, where McKay has a powerful behind-the-scenes presence.

Peter Storrie

Cleared at trial

The former chief executive of Portsmouth was cleared in October of tax evasion after being accused of disguising taxable payments to players. While at Portsmouth his earnings rose from £171,000 gross income in 2002-03 to £1,192,000 in 2007-08. Storrie, 59, says he has found it impossible to get a job back in football because he has not been able to publicise the fact he was cleared – until yesterday.

Karren Brady

Arrested, never charged

The former managing director of Birmingham City was arrested in April 2008 as part of the probe into corruption in football. She was told that she would not face charges more than a year later. Brady, now 43, left the club in 2009 and is now vice-chairman of West Ham United.

David Sullivan

Arrested, never charged

Sullivan, the former chairman of Birmingham, was arrested and cleared at the same time as Brady. The club said the inquiry had put unnecessary strain on Sullivan, 63, who had a quadruple heart bypass in the past. The former owner of the Daily and Sunday Sport newspapers is now joint chairman of West Ham.

Willie McKay

Arrested, never charged

A former bookie turned Monaco-based agent responsible for a number of deals between French and English clubs. Seen as a key figure in the inquiries but was cleared of wrongdoing by the Premier League "bungs" inquiry and never charged by the City of London operation. McKay is a key financial backer of Doncaster Rovers.

Amdy Faye

Arrested, never charged

Footballer whose purchase by Portsmouth in 2003 was at the centre of last year's trial of Storrie. The club allegedly paid a €300 "golden hello" to the Senegalese player, which was paid through the offshore account of his agent, McKay. Faye, 34, was never charged with any financial wrongdoing. Now a free agent, he last played for Leeds United.

Paul Peachey

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
musicBand's first new record for 20 years has some tough acts to follow
peopleAt least it's for a worthwhile cause
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Life and Style
healthFor Pure-O OCD sufferers this is a reality they live in
Life and Style
Sexual health charities have campaigned for the kits to be regulated
healthAmerican woman who did tells parents there is 'nothing to be afraid of'
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments