Mandaric clears the air with Redknapp

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The Independent Online

The Portsmouth chairman, Milan Mandaric, yesterday took the extraordinary step of releasing financial details of transfers conducted under Harry Redknapp in an effort to absolve the club's former manager of any wrongdoing.

The Portsmouth chairman, Milan Mandaric, yesterday took the extraordinary step of releasing financial details of transfers conducted under Harry Redknapp in an effort to absolve the club's former manager of any wrongdoing.

Redknapp had insisted on the hastily-convened press conference - at which Mandaric read a prepared statement - after being angered by reports about his role in transfer negotiations and the money paid to agents. "At no time did I imply there was any wrongdoing," Mandaric claimed. "I was simply saying that agents take too much money from the game. All transactions and fees have been registered with the Football Association."

Mandaric revealed that during Redknapp's two-and-a-half years in charge the club had used 31 agents in deals involving 38 players - with £3.4m going to the agents. He said that £11.5m had been paid in transfer fees, loan fees and appearance fees for a total of 25 players. Portsmouth also brought in 16 free transfers and three short-term loan players - and could still pay out a further £3.5m, depending on appearances. During the same period, Portsmouth received £5.1m from sales, giving a net £9.8m on transfers, which could rise depending on appearances.

Mandaric - who has been irked by his dealings with agents and the rising wage bill at Portsmouth - said that this amounted to a "phenomenal" job done by Redknapp who had taken the club from the bottom of the old First Division to mid-table in the Premiership.

He also said that, after arriving back in Britain from a week's business in Dubai to be told that yesterday's news conference was taking place, he had hoped that Redknapp had changed his mind and was returning. Redknapp - who is mulling over an offer to join Wolverhampton Wanderers - insisted this was not the case. "There's a future for Milan [at Portsmouth]," he said, "but not for me... I decided to quit because it was time to move on and it was one million per cent my decision. I've gone, let the next man come in and get on with the job."

Redknapp has said he needs a break but was also unhappy with the appointment of executive director Velimir Zajec, who is now in charge of the first team until a new head coach arrives.

"Have I spoken to other clubs?" Redknapp said. "None at all. I haven't gone down that road. If I rang any chairman up in the First Division and said 'look, for £10m I can get you out of the First Division and keep you in the Premiership for two years', I think I would have a few offers."

Redknapp said of yesterday's event: "This needed to be done, I don't deserve the innuendoes, we needed to clear the air. Milan's done that. I've done nothing but good for the club. As you've heard, 31 different agents were used in deals and I couldn't tell you what any of our players earn. When I look to sign a player, I find them, talk to them and make sure they want to come and play football for me."

Mandaric, who refused to take any questions, confirmed that it was only he and chief executive, Peter Storrie, who took part in transfer negotiations. "And at no time did I ever imply that there was any wrongdoing by Harry Redknapp in these transactions and I was simply saying that agents take so much out of the game," he claimed. "I want, along with all my fellow Premier League chairmen, to reduce their influence in all club finances."

Mandaric said he now wanted to end the whole "soap opera" of Redknapp's departure. "I just hope I was clear and loud and you give this message to our supporters so we can get on with our lives," he said.

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