Portsmouth have been fined £15,000 and agent Willie McKay given a suspended ban after being found guilty of breaching Football Association rules during the transfer of Benjani Mwaruwari to and from the club.
The club and agent were found guilty at an independent regulatory commission hearing today.
Agents are not allowed to act for two different clubs in two consecutive transactions involving the same player. The commission found that McKay acted on behalf of Auxerre when Benjani moved to Portsmouth in January 2006. He then acted for Portsmouth when the Zimbabwe striker moved to Manchester City in January this year.
"I think it's a witch-hunt and I'm not going to deviate from that," McKay told the Guardian today. "I should have asked them for special dispensation to do that deal and I didn't. If I'd have known I would have asked them. Portsmouth only asked me to do the deal because I knew the French market. Really he was meant to go to Marseilles or Lyon or Paris St Germain, and Manchester City came in and got him. That's what happened.
"I think it's difficult for [the FA] to understand but I still thought I would have got a warning. I can appeal it if I want, but it's a month's ban, a two-year suspended sentence. At the end of the day I don't want to continue my life fighting the FA. I'm business as usual. I'd just like to thank the FA for all the publicity they gave me."
McKay was given a suspended ban — if he is found guilty of any further breaches of FA regulations in the next two years, he will be suspended from taking part in any transactions involving English clubs for the duration of one transfer window. Portsmouth will face a further £15,000 fine if they breach any rules during the next two years.
The south coast club said they were "astounded" at the commission's decision. "We had no idea that the agent Willie McKay received a fee when the player joined us from Auxerre in January 2006, and both the agent and club confirmed this to the FA — evidence they have clearly ignored," a club spokesman said. "Portsmouth FC is astounded that the FA have fined the club in respect of Benjani Mwaruwari's transfers."
"The Football Agents Regulations were introduced as an important method of addressing unacceptable practices in professional football, particularly in the transfer market," commission chairman Paul Gilroy QC said. "Both parties were fully aware of the new regulations at the time the offences were committed. The commission considered that the justice of the case was met by imposing penalties which to a large degree will act as an incentive to both parties to avoid any future transgressions."