FA charges Willie McKay and Portsmouth over breach of rules

Portsmouth and Willie McKay have stressed their innocence in Benjani transfers following an FA charge

Portsmouth and the agent Willie McKay have been charged by the Football Association with breaches of rules in relation to the transfer of Benjani Mwaruwari to and from the club. Under the FA's football agents' regulations, which were introduced last year, agents are prohibited from acting for two different clubs in two consecutive transactions involving the same player, something McKay is alleged to have done when Benjani joined Portsmouth and later moved to Manchester City.

It is alleged that McKay acted on behalf of Auxerre when Benjani left the French club to join Portsmouth in January 2006 and then later acted for Portsmouth when the striker left Fratton Park for Manchester City in January. Mackay last night said he "was not aware of" the regulation.

Portsmouth said in a statement last night: "Portsmouth Football Club strongly deny charges by the FA alleging a breach of their regulations concerning the transfer of Benjani Mwaruwari to and from the club. "We did not pay an agent when Benjani joined the club from Auxerre in January 2006 and his transfer to Manchester City in January this year was approved at the time by the Premier League and the FA's compliance unit. This is nothing more than a technicality which we will strongly contest."

McKay admitted he may have "breached the regulations" but that it was a mistake and accused the FA of "launching a witchhunt". He added: "Everyone was happy but here are people spending time trying to find something wrong. They have dug up a regulation." Manchester City do not regard the FA charges in relation to Benjani as an issue that concerns them.

It is understood that these circumstances came to light when the Quest inquiry passed on paperwork to the FA in connection with their investigation into corruption in football which had examined Benjani's transfer to Portsmouth. Having noted that Auxerre cited McKay as the agent who had worked on their behalf - something which McKay has confirmed in the past - the FA concluded that McKay had also represented Portsmouth when the same player moved to City. Portsmouth and McKay have until August 29 to respond.

Portsmouth could, in a worst-case scenario, have a full transfer ban imposed, although it is more likely that they will be warned or fined, with a suspended transfer ban another possibility. McKay's situation is more complicated because he is registered as a licensed agent with the Scottish FA. He is registered with the English FA only as an overseas agent.

As a result the FA cannot fine or remove McKay's licence, punishments open to the national associations only where his licence is held. Instead the FA could warn McKay, refer him to his national association or Fifa, the world governing body, or remove his overseas licence. The latter punishment is the most severe and would have a significant impact on McKay given that he would no longer be able to operate in this country.

McKay, the Portsmouth manager Harry Redknapp and the club's chief executive Peter Storrie, are among a number of high-profile figures currently under investigation by City of London Police as part of their inquiry into corruption in football. All three strongly deny any wrongdoing.


Stuart James

The GuardianTramp

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