(AFP) – Nov 29, 2007
LONDON (AFP) — Portsmouth manager Harry Redknapp insisted Thursday he was not the focus of a police probe into corruption in English football as he hit out against his arrest.
Redknapp, arrested Wednesday along with four others including Serbian tycoon Milan Mandaric, said he was furious about his and his family's treatment and felt he had been targeted to raise the investigation's profile.
The Pompey boss, 60, said he was questioned about alleged payments made by an agent to a player following the arrests on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud and false accounting.
Detectives swooped in a pre-dawn raid on his house while he returned from watching Germany's VfB Stuttgart beat visiting Scottish giants Rangers 3-2 in a Champions League clash.
In a statement at Portsmouth's Eastleigh training ground, Redknapp told reporters he was "bitterly disappointed" and "deeply hurt" by his arrest.
"The whole crux of the meeting that they wanted to discuss with me... was the fact that an agent had been paid an agent's fee and he'd allegedly paid some of the money to the player," he said.
"That was the whole top and bottom of the whole investigation as far as I was concerned.
"There were no other issues for me to talk about: the player and the football agent.
"I wondered what I was doing there."
Portsmouth, seventh in the Premier League, are the highest-placed club with an English manager and Redknapp has been spoken of as a potential candidate for the vacant post of England coach.
He said his "petrified" wife left him "hysterical" telephone messages after detectives and tabloid newspaper photographers arrived at his home in Poole, on the southern English coast.
"If you can tell me that's the way to treat anybody, well, I'm afraid it's not the society that I was brought up in and I am bitterly disappointed," he said.
"I still feel I was only called into this because being high-profile I add a bit of profile to the investigation.
And he added: "Really and truly this is absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with me ... What the agent actually does with his player is none of our business at all.
"This club is completely transparent, is totally honest, there's nothing that goes on in this football club that shouldn't.
"Why I couldn't just have got a phonecall and asked just to pop down the police station and have a chat about this I really don't know."
Portsmouth chairman Peter Storrie was also among those detained, according to a statement released by the south coast club.
Mandaric, the Leicester City supremo and former Pompey owner, was also among them and promised to cooperate with the investigation.
Several newspapers named agent Willie McKay, 48, and Charlton Athletic's Senegal midfielder Amdy Faye, 30, as the other two arrested.
The swoop is thought to revolve around the 1.5-million-pound (3.1-million-dollar, 2.1-million-euro) transfer of Faye from French club Auxerre to Portsmouth in August 2003, a deal set up by McKay, media outlets reported.
The arrests were made as police raided eight addresses as part of the inquiry opened in late 2006 by the economic crime unit of the City of London Police, the national lead force in fraud investigations.
The investigation is one of a number of corruption probes in recent years.
Former Scotland Yard chief John Stevens has been holding a separate inquiry into alleged irregular transfer payments in the Premier League.
In June 2007, Stevens presented a report to the Premier League identifying 17 transfers as suspect.
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