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FA panel rules Phillips agent's claims "unconvincing"
MATT Phillips' agent vowed to give Wanderers "the hardest time you've ever had" after he missed out on money he claimed to be owed by the club, an FA commission has revealed.
Phil Smith said he would bring in lawyers in a bid to recover money he said he was owed by Wanderers off the back of Phillips' transfer to Blackpool in 2010, a written ruling by the FA regulatory commission stated.
But the panel ruled the agent was "an unconvincing and unreliable witness" during an April disciplinary hearing, stating his evidence was "inconsistent and contradictory".
Smith claimed he and Wanderers - under previous owner Steve Hayes - came to an agreement when Phillips left the club that the agent would be entitled to a percentage of the profits from a 25 per cent sell on should the player leave Blackpool in the future.
But the FA said Smith had failed to disclose in writing that an agreement existed between him and Wanderers that he would receive a cut of any future transfer, and had failed to declare he had an interest in relation to Phillips' registration rights.
Phillips left Blackpool for QPR in a £6million transfer last summer but before the move was completed Wanderers - by now under the new ownership of the Wycombe Wanderers Trust - sold their entitlement to any sell on for £200,000.
The three-man FA commission panel accepted the Trust, and new club chairman Don Woodward, only became aware of the arrangement between Smith and Hayes in December 2012 as it had not come to light during the due diligence process of their takeover.
Smith left a series of five voicemail messages for Woodward, which were transcribed and played to the FA hearing.
In one he said: "I will give you the hardest time you’ve ever had if you don’t honour an agreement with us. Its as simple as that. You’ll be hearing back from our lawyers. … I will really go for you and you personally as well ok? Don’t take it as a threat, that’s a promise."
In another Smith said: "The fact that you registered to try and pay us in a way that was not compliant, doesn’t mean – does not mean, that you don’t pay us for a job that is already done and that’s what we will be suing you for, as much as anything else."
Woodward complained to the FA after this and the agent and club were both subsequently charged with three offences for breaching regulations relating to agents.
Wanderers pleaded guilty to the charges but Smith denied them all, although he was found guilty following April's hearing.
In its findings, the FA panel ruled: "Drawing all of the strands together, we find that [Smith’s] claim that all he was doing in reality was engaging in a form of brinkmanship with [Don Woodward] simply does not ring true, even when one makes appropriate allowances for the aggressive business of being a football agent.
"His case has evolved significantly, and very belatedly, to one where the club offered him no more than the possibility of further agency work at some unspecified point in the future, unconnected with the transfer of [Matt Phillips] apart from compensating him for the money that he had lost/not earned on that transaction.
"That case flies in the face of all of the key documents in the case, the demands for payment that have been made by him and on his behalf, as well as the credible oral evidence. The changes in his case which he sought to rely upon are, we find, self-induced and self-serving. We note the timing of the last and most fundamental shift in his position, and that it has coincided with the instigation of disciplinary proceedings against him."
The ruling added: "In view of the contents of [Woodward]’s e-mail of December 4 2012, we are also satisfied that [Smith] was aware that [Phillips] might be sold during the January 2013 transfer window, and that his claim to the payment of a fee from the club directly related to such an event.
"Further, we accept the evidence of [Woodward] that the owner of Blackpool, Karl Oyston, contacted him with a view to establishing why [Smith] had contacted him in connection with [Phillips]. The reason is clear: [Smith] was taking an active and close interest in any impending sale of [Phillips]."
The panel said Woodward "gave his evidence in an honest and straightforward manner...we were satisfied that he did his best to assist the commission".
Woodward brought the issue to the FA's attention and the panel ruled he had "nothing to gain" by doing so: "On the contrary, it has resulted in the club being charged with misconduct, and pleading guilty. We gained no sense that his evidence was coloured by an attempt to limit the club’s culpability."
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