Bony takes agents to court

Swansea striker Wilfried Bony will be the focus of a High Court case after the Swans were accused of paying £8m in "secret commissions".

 

Bony claims that two football agents who used to represent him received under-the-table cash between 2013-2015.

The agents, Gilbert Kacou and Czech Dalibor Lacina, are now being sued alongside the club, for commissions in excess of £8m.

Swansea re-signed Bony this summer and say they have no dispute with him.

A Swansea City spokesperson told BBC Wales Sport: "The club can confirm that there is no ongoing legal dispute between Swansea City Football Club and Wilfried Bony."

It is understood Swansea are calm about the situation, believing any previous disputes around the case were resolved prior to Bony rejoining the club. They believe the matter is now between Bony and his previous agents and the club were not represented at a preliminary hearing at the High Court.

At the preliminary hearing, the agents tried to halt the litigation in Bony's case against them, insisting the dispute had to be resolved behind closed doors, before an arbitration panel under the aegis of the Football Association.

Judge Mark Pelling QC told the High Court: "The factual allegation is that, while ostensibly acting on his behalf in negotiations concerning his contract of employment with Swansea, (the agents and their companies) received secret commissions totalling in excess of £8m from the fifth defendant (Swansea City)."

He added that the commissions were alleged to have been paid "under four written agreements... between July 2013 and February 2015".

There was also "a free-standing allegation of fraudulent or negligent misrepresentation" against Mr Kacou concerning an image rights agreement between Bony and Mr Kacou's company, the court heard.

But, rejecting those arguments, Judge Pelling pointed out that, although Mr Kacou is a registered football agent in the Ivory Coast, he is "not an authorised agent as defined by the FA rules".

None of the written agreements Bony signed with the agents or their companies made reference to the FA's arbitration procedures and he was entitled to proceed with his case in the High Court, the judge ruled.

No date was given for the full hearing of the case, though Bony's legal team say they are pleased the matter will reach open court.

Bony's solicitor, Marc Yaffe, a partner and head of litigation at JMW Solicitors, told BBC Sport in a statement: "On behalf of our client, we are delighted with the decision, which could be the most important legal decision for the football industry this year.

"It means the case will be aired in open court rather than being settled privately away from the public's gaze and scrutiny. Our client wants open justice. Most agents do a fantastic job for players, but there are plenty of instances where they and players fall out or there are concerns that an agent has not acted in the player's best interests.

"Vast sums of money are often involved, yet these cases tend to get hived off to a private forum.

"This ruling sends a clear message to all agents that such a route is no longer the only option

"More importantly, it provides an opportunity to all players to air their grievances in open court."

Bony has been living in the UK since 2013, when he was transferred to Swansea City from Dutch side Vitesse Arnhem.

 

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