The panel have provided a fascinating insight into the misrule at St James’ Park as the seeds were sowed for a crisis that resulted in relegation from the Premier League eight months later.
“On 30 August 2008, almost at the end of the transfer window Dennis Wise telephoned Mr Keegan and told him that he had a great player for the club to sign, namely Ignacio Gonzalez, and that he should look him up.
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“Mr Keegan tried to locate him on the internet but could find no reference to him. Mr Wise told him that he had been on loan at Monaco but having checked out the details, Mr Keegan was unimpressed and told Mr Wise that he did not think the player was good enough.
"Mr Wise then told him that the player was on 'YouTube' and that Mr Keegan could look him up there but he found that the clips were of poor quality and provided no proper basis for signing a player to a Premier League Club.
“Moreover, no one at the club had ever seen him play. However, notwithstanding that he made it clear not only to Mr Wise but also to Mr Jimenez and to Mr Ashley that he very strongly objected to the signing of Mr Gonzalez (he was to be signed on loan with an option to purchase), the Club proceeded with the deal and the transfer was concluded the following day, on 31 August 2008.
“The Club did so, according to its witnesses who gave evidence before us, because it was in the Club’s commercial interests to do so. It was what the Club described as a 'commercial deal' by which the Club meant a deal which was in the commercial interests of the Club.
“The 'commercial interests', according to the Club, were that the signing of the player on loan would be a “favour” to two influential South American agents who would look favourably on the Club in the future. The loan deal cost the Club nearly £1m in wages for a player who was not expected to play for the first team but no payment was made by the Club to the agents in respect of the deal.
“Although it is clear that Mr Keegan also had concerns about the nature of this deal, his primary objection to it was that it breached what he described as “the golden rule”, i.e. the term of his contract by which he, the Manager, would have the final say and that notwithstanding that he had strongly objected to the proposed transfer, the Club nonetheless had proceeded with it.
"The upshot was that despite several attempts by both sides to find a way forward, Mr Keegan concluded that he had no option but to leave the Club because, to use the language of the law, in breaching what he maintained was a fundamental term of the contract, the Club had thereby repudiated it as a result of which he was entitled to resign. Hence this claim.”