Former Manchester United manager, Sir Alex Ferguson has been accused of fixing a match against Juventus, the court was told.
He allegedly received a gifted of £30k gold Rolex watch for his effort. 64-year-old football agent, Giuseppe ‘Pino’ Pagliara told the jurors.
He is currently facing a trial for bribery at Southwark Crown Court. Others involved are fellow agent, Dax Price, another and former Barnsley assistant coach, Tommy Wright. They have denied the charges.
Ferguson had an illustrious 26 years at the Old Trafford where he won 13 Premier League crowns. Paglaira also accused Ferguson of pocketing backhanded fees off agents from transfers.
The trial is following allegations of corruption published by the Daily Telegraph in 2016. This led to Sam Allardyce quitting his job as England manager after just a game.
According to the prosecutor, Brian O’Neill, Pagliara and Price allegedly tried to “impress” Claire Newell, an undercover journalist. They allegedly arranged meetings with prominent footballing figures such as Steve McLaren, Harry Redknapp, and manager Neil Warnock,
O’Neil said Pagliara claimed that “99 percent of the people in football if they weren’t in football, would be selling second-hand cars.”
Pagliara’s alleged offence
The court also heard that Pagliara became furious with Redknapp during a meeting in July 2016. The former Spur manager suggested that the reporter buy a football club. He suggested thisaid instead of using a legal loophole to get around a ban on third-party ownership of players in England.
“Towards the end of the meeting Pagliara launched into what could only be described as a diatribe of Sir Alex Ferguson, accusing him of having conspired with Pagliara to fix the result of a football match between Juventus, a club which Pagliara was associated with, and Manchester United in the Champions League for which Pagliara had thanked him with a gold 30 grand Rolex watch.
“Pagliara went on to accuse Sir Alex Ferguson of having taken money as part of transfer deals. He claimed that he had paid Ferguson before.
“To the outside world, the plan being espoused by Mr Pagliara, it would look as though the player in question was owned by the football club in Belgium when actually the player was owned by a third party.
“He went to speak about placing players in Italian clubs where he had various connections before moving them to England.
“‘You have to have an offshore account somewhere and that’s where we do it. For example, Antonio Conte [then head coach at Chelsea] [ has winked at us and said, “yeah, I want that player, is there a little coffee for me Pino?”’
“A little coffee, she said. ‘Yeah, that’s what he’ll say: yeah, of course, there is and now I’m negotiating a coffee as well and we are not talking about a double espresso.’
“He went on to say he would disguise it as a consultancy agreement by another trusted individual.
“‘Claire, I’ve opened so many Swiss bank accounts for managers that you would not believe’,” O’Neill revealed an incident that happened in another meeting.
How the reporter got them
The court was also told that Wright accepted a cash bribe to get players to sign up with the agents.
Claire got the revelation by being allegedly close to them. She set up a fake company with her team. She then told Pagliara and Price that she was interested in investing in football players.
They arranged for a £5,000 bribe to be handed in an envelope to Wright. The Scottish had played top-flight football for Leeds, Leicester City, Oldham, and Middlesbrough.
Wright pleaded not guilty to two counts of accepting a bribe. Pagliara and Price denied two counts of paying and facilitating a bribe.
Speaking of Price, the prosecutor said: “He went on to say this: ‘There are certain people like Harry Redknapp; he needs looking after. There are certain people like Neil Warnock.’
“It’s no part of this prosecution to malign those individuals about whom they spoke.
“These people were not present when these things were being said about them and were in no position, therefore, to challenge, deny or rebut those allegations.
“However, it’s significant evidence in the case of the defendant who said the words and any other defendant who was present and did not disassociate themselves from those words.
“And that’s because it’s evidence of that defendant’s knowledge or belief of corruption within football in this country and elsewhere and his willingness in just to condone such practices, but also to embrace and exploit them and that’s why this evidence is relevant and admissible.”
The trial continues.