West Brom manager Tony Pulis will have to pay back €4.3 million to his former club Crystal Palace, a High Court challenge in London decided yesterday.
Pulis had earlier this year been ordered to pay £3.7m (€4.3m) damages to former club Crystal Palace by a Premier League Managers’ Arbitration Tribunal. He had claimed the decision was unfair and mounted a challenge in the High Court.
But judge Michael Burton has ruled against him after a hearing in London. Detail has emerged in a written ruling published by the judge on Monday.
Judge Burton said the tribunal had analysed evidence after Palace bosses complained about the way Pulis had left the club at the start of the 2014-15 season.
The judge said Pulis had a contract which would see him get a £2m (€2.3m) bonus if he kept Palace in the Premier League in 2013-14 and stayed in the manager’s job until August 31, 2014. Pulis had kept Palace in the top flight but had not stayed until August 31, 2014.
Palace bosses complained Pulis had deceived them into paying the bonus early by saying he was “committed” to the club and “urgently needed the money early” so that he could buy some land for his children.
Judge Burton said Palace bosses had agreed to Pulis’s request for early payment and handed over the £2m on August 12, 2014. He said that on August 13, Pulis told bosses he wanted to leave, and on August 14 he left.
Pulis had denied “fraud”.
He said he only wanted to leave if it was “mutually agreeable for him to leave on the eve of the new season”, and that it had been “mutually agreeable”.
Arbitrators had concluded that Pulis made “false representations”.
They decided he had not been “committed to the club”, had not intended to stay until August 31 and “there was no such land transaction”.
They also concluded he had not told the truth and “deliberately misled” Palace chairman Steve Parish “concerning his intentions”.
“Mr Pulis secured early payment of his bonus from the club by deceit in August 2014,” arbitrators concluded. “The day after he had secured payment of £2 million ... he dropped the bombshell on the club that he intended to leave, leaving it, as must have been his intention, in the lurch on the eve of the new season.”
Arbitrators added: “By any standards his conduct (prior to and during the litigation) has been shown to be disgraceful.”
Judge Burton said the arbitration tribunal was made up of three senior barristers. The judge said he had analysed Pulis’s complaints about the arbitrators’ decisions and concluded that his challenge should be dismissed. He said he would enforce the damages awarded by the arbitrators.
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