Pompey deny FA charges over Benjani deal
Portsmouth are today considering their response after denying any wrongdoing despite being charged by the Football Association, alongside agent Willie McKay, with breaches of rules in relation to the transfer of Zimbabwe striker Benjani Mwaruwari to and from the club.
Under the FA's football agents regulations, agents are prohibited from acting for two different clubs in two consecutive transactions involving the same player.
The FA have pointed out that clubs are not allowed to use the services of an agent in such circumstances.
McKay is alleged to have acted on behalf of French club Auxerre when Benjani joined Pompey in January 2006.
And the FA believe he also acted for Portsmouth in Benjani's transfer from Fratton Park to Manchester City in January this year, and the subsequently completed transaction involving the player.
McKay, speaking to Sky Sports News, has blasted what he considers to be a 'witch hunt' against him.
'It was two years ago. Why did they allow the transfer to go through to Manchester City in the first place?' he said.
'I believe there is a witch hunt against me and it is neverending.'
Both parties have until August 29 - the day when Pompey will learn their fate in the draw for the first round proper of the UEFA Cup - to respond to the charges but the club are adamant they are innocent in the matter.
A club statement read: '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.'
Benjani's move from Auxerre to Pompey figured in Lord Stevens' Quest team's probes into alleged irregular dealings and was never written off at the end of the inquiry.
The deal was originally said to have cost Portsmouth £4.1million although then Portsmouth chairman Milan Mandaric claimed the figure was £4.4million.
Benjani, now 30, was a popular figure at Fratton Park even though he failed to score in his first 14 games, and last season he finally found his shooting boots with 12 goals in 26 starts including a hat-trick against Reading.
Then, to finance a £7.5 million move for Jermain Defoe from Tottenham, Benjani was sold on deadline day in January to Manchester City for an eventually agreed £3.87million fee million - with likely add-ons planned to make a total of £7.6million.
The transfer went beyond the deadline after the player missed two flights to Manchester and looked likely to be called off but was finally completed and Benjani scored a debut goal in City's win 2-1 win over Manchester United.
He added just two more goals - one against Pompey - in 12 City appearances before the end of last season and is currently injured, looking likely to miss the start of the new campaign.