THE agent suing Bolton Wanderers accused the club of “concealing wrongdoing” by backdating transfer papers, a court heard.
Tony McGill told Manchester Civil Justice Centre that he found it “suspicious” that one piece of paperwork, signed by chairman Phil Gartside, relating to the £1 million transfer of Gavin McCann from Aston Villa in 2007, was not completed with the rest of the documents when club secretary Simon Marland returned from holiday.
Instead, it was signed by Mr Gartside in his absence, with the date changed from June 8 to June 1.
Neither Mr Marland or Jeffrey Weston from the Sport and Entertainment Media Group (SEM), who are fighting the £390,000 suit alongside Wanderers, could remember why the document had been backdated. They both claim the other person was responsible.
Wanderers, Mr Gartside, Mr Marland, former manager Sammy Lee, Frank McParland, SEM, its CEO Jerome Anderson, Mr Weston and David Sheron are contesting the allegation that they conspired to cut Mr McGill out of the transfer of Mr McCann.
Mr McGill, who gave evidence for much of yesterday, said the only reason he could see for the document being backdated was to conceal wrongdoing.
He said: “They could have sent it all on June 11. What strikes me as suspicious is that this was the only contract signed on June 8. Why was it not left until June 11 for Marland? What was the panic?”
Mr McGill added that email exchanges between Mr Marland and Mr Weston proved that SEM were in fact representing Mr McCann.
SEM contest that Mr McCann did not have an agent and that they were involved on the club’s behalf.
Mr McGill told the court he believed SEM engaged in a practice known as “switching” and represented the club instead of Mr McCann so he could avoid tax.
Had Mr McGill been representing the player, the court heard he would have either “grossed up” Mr McCann’s wages or persuaded Bolton to pay agency fees on the player’s behalf.
Mr McGill pointed to a flurry of phone and text activity between himself and Mr McCann in the weeks leading up to the transfer as proof he was acting as his agent.
He referenced a text to McCann asking “Bolton?” followed by a three-minute call from McCann to McGill as evidence they had discussed the deal.
SEM lawyer Lisa Walmisley argued the calls were of a general nature and not between player and agent.
Mr McGill added: “I don’t resent Mr McCann. He was a good friend for a while but succumbed to temptation.”
The case continues.