Thursday 24 August 2017

Video: Millionaire says he lacks Midas touch

Paul Peachey in London

For a man with a sprawling Tudorbethan mansion in one of the world's priciest property hot spots, and the sort of income that attracts a cumulative £8m (€9.5m) tax bill, Harry Redknapp's forceful denials that he could be a "hard-headed businessman" with considerable "business acumen" sit uneasily with the reality of his lifestyle.

Prosecutors went out of their way at the football manager's fraud trial to paint a picture of an astute wheeler-dealer who has acquired considerable trappings of wealth, including his home in the exclusive Sandbanks area of Poole in Dorset on England's south coast, which has the distinction of being the world's fourth most expensive place to buy a home.

Mr Redknapp, who paid around £3m (€3.6m) for his waterside property in 2002 and could now expect in excess of £10m (€12m) for the building once owned by the founders of the Rawlplug empire, was described by prosecutor John Black as having a "keen sense of his pecuniary value". Prosecutors believed Mr Redknapp was loaded and proud of it.

This is far from the image the former West Ham manager sought to present to jurors. In a typically combative display, Mr Redknapp (64), the son of a painter-decorator from London's East End, entered the dock to flatly reject Mr Black's characterisation of him. He said: "I'm a fantastic football manager. I'm not a hard-headed businessman. I've got no financial acumen whatsoever."

The Tottenham manager once told an interviewer how he persuaded three friends to provide £5,000 each while he was manager of Bournemouth FC to buy a player for £20,000 who was later sold for £500,000. The deal did not proceed after the club decided to put up the money for the player itself.

Off the pitch, Mr Redknapp, along with his wife, Sandra, is director of three separate companies all dedicated to the "development and selling of real estate". In 2007, Mr Redknapp, a racehorse owner, must have thought he was on to a winner. Through one his companies, Pierfront Developments Ltd, he pounced with business partners to buy Savoy Buildings, a block of dilapidated flats, and a second adjoining site on the seafront at Southsea, Portsmouth.

On paper, it looked a dead cert. The £8.5m development, the first phase of which proposed to build 92 flats and retail space earmarked for a Tesco store, was expected to make a £4m profit.

Security

Mr Redknapp was so confident about the deal he offered an unspecified share of his Sandbanks home as security.

Unfortunately, the Southsea scheme has not quite worked out. The site has been put up for sale by Pierfront with a price tag of £4m.

When he was interviewed by City of London Police about the fraud allegations against him, Mr Redknapp offered his Southsea property saga as evidence of his distinct lack of business nous.

He told officers: "The only downside is it's only worth £4m now and I've done £6m, you know. My house is up against it but that's where I'm at. That's how useless I am with things."

His trial heard that the contract he signed at Portsmouth in 2004 was worth £4.2m over three years. He emphasised that he had paid income tax totalling £8m -- suggesting an income over the years of around £24m. The latest accounts available for Pierfront Developments show it made a profit of £1.7m in the year ending in November 2010.

But little, it would seem, is straightforward in the world of Mr Redknapp. The same accounts showed Pierfront's liabilities (mostly loans) exceeded its assets by £2.4m. A second company owned by the manager and his wife, Redsouth Ltd, which ultimately controls Pierfront, was in a similar position with its liabilities exceeding its assets by £2.9m.

As Mr Redknapp told his police interrogators: "Unfortunately, I live my life like that."

Irish Independent

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