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11 Oktober 2008

Chelsea open legal proceedings against Lyn and Andersen over Mikel transfer

Chelsea have issued a high court claim for £16m against the Norwegian club FC Lyn Oslo and their disgraced former chief executive, Morgan Andersen, over the controversial purchase of John Mikel Obi, though there seems little prospect of the Premier League club being able to recoup all the money they paid for the Nigeria midfielder.
Mikel arrived at Stamford Bridge in 2006 in a complicated deal that saw some £4m paid to Lyn Oslo and £12m to Manchester United, who believed they had originally signed the player on professional terms. However, Andersen was convicted in an Oslo court earlier this year of forging contracts relating to Chelsea and Mikel, which enabled the Norwegian club to gain a slice of the player's transfer fee. Chelsea duly informed Lyn that the deal was based on a fraudulent misrepresentation that the player had an employment contract at the Oslo club and that they would seek full repayment.
Chelsea have privately stressed that they are not attempting to put Lyn Oslo out of business, and it appears unlikely that the Norwegian club, currently mid-table in their domestic league, would have the funds to pay anything close to the £16m compensation demanded. With that in mind, the two clubs are involved in "positive discussions" in a bid to reach some kind of compromise over the case, the pursuit of which has fast become a point of principal for the Premier League leaders.
Although Chelsea are technically seeking the return of the entire fee, the most likely result will be an out-of-court settlement between the clubs, given their willingness to maintain dialogue. "The claim is against FC Lyn Oslo and Morgan Andersen and follows the criminal conviction in Norway of Lyn's former chief executive officer," said a Chelsea spokesman. "It is for the entire £16m fee paid by Chelsea for the player as it is now clear, following Andersen's conviction, that the transfer was based on the fraudulent misrepresentation that Mikel had an employment contract with Lyn.
"Chelsea has written to Lyn to make clear that because the transfer was based on a fraudulent misrepresentation, now proven by a court of law, the settlement previously agreed is not binding. Chelsea is in contact with Lyn and looks forward to working positively with them to resolve the claim promptly. Chelsea would like to make clear that this legal action is against Lyn and Morgan Andersen."
That reflects the reality that Manchester United, who declined to comment, are not involved in any way in Chelsea's pursuit of the money they paid two years ago. Indeed, Chelsea are not intending to involve their Premier League rivals in the high court case. However, this should prove the final twist in a saga that infuriated Sir Alex Ferguson who, along with United, had been convinced that Mikel was bound for Old Trafford rather than Stamford Bridge some two years ago.
Mikel claimed to have signed a youth contract with Lyn in 2005 but, within a week, United announced they had agreed to sign him on professional terms at the end of the Norwegian season in January 2006. The player was even photographed wearing a United shirt, only for Chelsea also to claim to have reached an agreement to sign the player. That prompted United and Lyn to report the London club and the player's agents, John Shittu and Rune Hauge, to Fifa and it was not until June 2006, some 14 months after the saga first flared up, that Chelsea agreed a compromise deal to pay both Lyn and United for the player's services.
That decision was made on the basis that Mikel was under contract in Oslo, the reality of which was dispelled when Andersen — the chief executive at the Norwegian club at the time — was convicted of making false accusations and fraud over the agreement that apparently existed between his club and the midfielder. He was given a one-year suspended sentence after a court decided the professional contract Mikel subsequently denied ever signing and which committed him to the club actually carried a signature cut out from the amateur agreement to which he had previously been tied.