British football agent Steve Davies, who represented Sport Minister Brent Sancho during his professional career in England, has made an about-turn regarding the request for a “personal payment” by Advisor to the Sport Minister, Kevin Harrison, during transfer negotiations for Trinidad and Tobago international forward Rundell Winchester in August 2014.
At the time, Sancho and Harrison were Central FC chairman and operations director respectively, and were finalising details for the transfer of Winchester to lower league Belgium club, CS Visé. Davies represented Visé at the time.
“Could you indicate when you would be able to slip in the personal payment?” asked an email from Harrison’s account, on 27 August 2014. “Probably the best payment method would be via Western Union (obviously the fees would be deducted from the initial sum). If possible, send two payments, 50% to Brent Sancho and 50% to Kevin Harrison.”
Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) general secretary Sheldon Phillips said the local football body was “very, very concerned” by the email and will consider a formal probe.
Last Tuesday, on 1 September 2015, Davies confirmed receipt of Harrison’s email and told Wired868 that he considered any request for a personal payment as illegal. And he produced his response to Harrison, just hours later, that rebuffed the solicitation.
“Kevin, I don’t know what (you’re) on about regarding any personal payments,” stated Davies’ email, which was sent on 28 August 2014, “as the deal was that the club will make three payments to your club…”
Harrison, according to Davies, never responded to the latter’s email and neither he nor Sancho brought it up again.
However, four days later, Davies said Sancho played no role in Harrison’s request for a personal payment to both men. He copied Sancho and Harrison on his email to Wired868.
“Having saving seen your post after my chat with you, I feel it’s only fair that I clear up the matter and copy in both Mr Sancho and Mr Harrison,” said Davies. “Once again, I would like to say that Mr Sancho has never asked for any payment to himself or anyone else. He only negotiated a payment for Mr Winchester…
“Mr Harrison sent that email to me and by my reply it is very clear there was never any secret payment discussed with Mr Sancho or anyone else.”
Davies then suggested that Harrison’s request—which the agent himself rebuffed last year and four days ago—was actually a reference to hotel and travel expenses for Sancho and Harrison’s proposed trip to Belgium.
Davis previously told Wired868 that the only thing Visé was prepared to offer to Sancho and Harrison was their airfare to Belgium and accommodation, so as to formally discuss a collaboration between the two clubs.
Davies did not suggest, in a previous interview, that he believed “slip in the personal payment” was a reference to hotel and airfare fees. But he did now.
“What Mr Harrison was referring to was the payment for the travel and hotel that Visé agreed to pay Mr Sancho and Mr Harrison to come to Belgium,” stated Davies, “to talk about a merger with the two clubs. A phone call was put into Visé after my reply to Mr Harrison’s email, which was explained that the money that Mr Harrison was asking to be paid via Western Union was the flight and hotel expenses that I agreed to pay and nothing else.
“Mr (Terry) Fenwick was aware of this and I’m sure he will clear that up with you.”
Wired868 posed some follow up questions to Davies, which were also copied to Sancho and Harrison:
How come you only found out what Harrison meant (by “slip in the personal payment) a year after the fact?
(So) Harrison wanted to split the hotel and (air) transport money 50/50 with Brent Sancho? Was that for Harrison and Sancho to book their trips separately?
“Slip in a personal payment” was Harrison-speak for “did you book the hotel and flights for us?”
Davies responded that he had made some phone calls over the last four days, which led to his about-turn. He did not say whom he spoke to.
“I’ve made some calls and was told about the call (between Harrison and Fenwick) and am passing it on to you,” stated Davies, “as your story looked as I was confirming that Mr Harrison was asking for a bung…”
If former Central FC coach Terry Fenwick is the only person who could vouch for the supposed harmless nature of Harrison’s request, then the Central official might have a problem.
“I have no knowledge of any phone call from Harrison,” Fenwick told Wired868. “That whole business had nothing to do with me.”
Why did Harrison not simply respond to Davies’ email and say: “No, I meant for hotel and airfare?”
And how could Harrison have appropriately dealt with the matter when, for over a year, Visé’s point man, Davies himself, retained the impression that he was approached for an illegal payment?
This time, Davies’ did not copy Sancho and Harrison in on his reply to Wired868.
“Lasana, the email speaks for itself (and) it was clear that I did not know what (Harrison) was on about,” stated Davies. “I pointed out to you that any request for payments other than through the correct channels was illegal and that’s clear to everyone…
“Ask Mr Harrison why he never replied.”
More than a week after Wired868’s exclusive report on the request for a personal payment, neither of the two named recipients—Harrison and Sancho—have responded to our questions on the matter.