'Only Bolton Wanderers chairman Phil Gartside had authority to sanction £300,000 payment'

This Is Lancashire: Bolton Wanderers chairman Phil Gartside Bolton Wanderers chairman Phil Gartside

ONLY Bolton Wanderers chairman Phil Gartside had the authority to sanction the £300,000 payment the club made to an agency to represent them in the allegedly hijacked transfer of Gavin McCann, a court heard.

A court also heard from Wanderers' club secretary Simon Marland that the main terms of the 2007 deal - the transfer fee, Mr McCann's wages and agency fees - arrived to him non-negotiable from employee Rosemary Gregson.

He added that only Mr Gartside could have passed these terms to her.

Mr Marland said he "does not know" who appointed The Sport and Entertainment Media Group (SEM) to act for them, or when it was done.

He then speculated that only Mr Gartside had the authority to make an agreement with the potential to cost the club such a sizeable sum.

Mr McGill's lawyer, Martin Budworth, speculating on Bolton paying SEM £300,000 for a deal it seemingly had little involvement in, asked what Wanderers' debts were at the time.

Mr Marland said he could not remember the exact amount due to the passage of time but conceded it was "a lot of money".

He was then asked whether he questioned the fee to SEM given what they had actually done.

Mr Marland said: "I could ask that about the majority of deals."

The High Court, sitting at Manchester Civil Justice Centre, was also told by Mr Marland that "all" at Wanderers were paranoid about agents after a Panorama documentary that featured the club.

Nevertheless, he admitted hearing of Mr McGill's grievances about the deal being "hijacked" before it was formally completed with the FA, but failing to act.

On beginning his involvement in the deal, Mr Marland said: "Mr Gartside told me the terms had been agreed.

"I was just told to tidy up the rest."

When asked whether Mr Gartside had told him where he had got the terms from, Mr Marland said: "No. I certainly don't remember him saying that. All I remember is that he gave me the three main ingredients of the deal."

He confirmed that a transfer document had been backdated from June 8 to June 1 but said he did not know who was responsible.

Rosemary Gregson, his PA at the time, said he had ordered her to do it, which Mr Marland denied.

He also refuted an accusation that Mr Gartside had told him to do it and said there was no reason for Wanderers to backdate the paper.

Mr Budworth speculated it was so Wanderers could show Mr McGill they had signed with SEM earlier than they had, which Mr Marland said was not true.

Mr Budworth put it to Mr Marland that they would surely have taken Mr McGill's complaints seriously in light of the Panorama investigation.

Mr Marland said Mr McGill had no documentary proof and Frank McParland, director of football, had been told by Mr McCann that he was not using an agent, although Mr Marland admitted he "had a good idea" Mr McGill was unhappy about the transfer.

Mr Marland told Mr McGill that he would be on holiday until June 25, 2007 and therefore unable to address his complaints until he got back.

But a court was told he came into work on June 11, before the deal was ratified, but did not contact Mr McGill as he "did not have time".

Mr Budworth put to him that this was a "weak" excuse and that he simply wanted to avoid Mr McGill until after the transfer had gone through.

Mr McGill is pursuing costs of £390,000 from Wanderers, SEM, Mr Gartside, Mr McParland, Sammy Lee, SEM, its CEO Jerome Anderson, Jeffrey Weston and Dave Sheron for conspiring to cut him out of the McCann transfer.

The trial continues after Easter.

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