The path was cleared for Harry Redknapp to become the next England manager after he and Sheffield Wednesday chairman Milan Mandaric were dramatically acquitted of tax evasion.
Bookmakers were already slashing odds on Redknapp succeeding Fabio Capello as he walked free from court with a five-year police inquiry in tatters – hours before the Italian quit the England job.
The Spurs manager said the case should never have reached trial after jurors accepted his angry denials of having dodged tax on £189,000 paid into a Monaco account by Mandaric.
The Wednesday chairman described the allegations against him as “totally unfounded” and said he had “saved thousands of jobs and paid tens of millions” in tax by saving three clubs which were “on the brink of extinction” .
The two men hugged as the jury at Southwark Crown Court found them not guilty on two charges of tax evasion relating to money paid into Redknapp’s Monaco account. The Spurs boss said it was the “end of a nightmare”.
The transactions took place as the pair squabbled over a transfer bonus Redknapp was due for the £3m profit Portsmouth made on the sale of England striker Peter Crouch. However, the jury accepted Redknapp’s claim that he knew he was “morally but not legally” entitled to the cash which both he and Mandaric described as an “investment” during the trial at Southwark Crown Court.
A recorded telephone conversation between News of the World reporter Rob Beasley and the pair in 2009 was a pivotal element in the Crown’s case.
Redknapp’s taped statements that the money was for transfer bonuses was “the most compelling and important evidence”, prosecutor John Black QC said.
But defence barrister John Kelsey-Fry QC said the Sunday tabloid’s evidence was “despicable”.