Redknapp appears in court over tax

LONDON - Tottenham Hotspur manager Harry Redknapp and former Portsmouth chairman Milan Mandaric appeared in a British court on Thursday jointly accused of cheating the public revenue.

The pair face two charges relating to two alleged payments totalling $295,000 made to Redknapp during his time as manager of Portsmouth by Mandaric via a bank account in Monaco, evading tax and national insurance contributions.

Appearing together in the dock, Mandaric, 71, and Redknapp, 62, spoke only to confirm their names, addresses and ages and lent forward and listened carefully to proceedings in a brief, five minute hearing at the City of Westminster magistrates court in central London.

The pair were given unconditional bail and must now appear at London's Southwark Crown Court on April 14 where they will enter their pleas.

After the hearing, Mandaric's lawyer said his client was "surprised and extremely disappointed" that the authorities had decided to prosecute him, saying the case was "misconceived and extremely ill-judged."

"We are absolutely confident that this prosecution will fail," his lawyer Mark Wilson told reporters.

"Mr Mandaric looks forward to emerging from these proceedings completely vindicated and with his reputation for honesty and integrity completely untouched."

Redknapp took over as Portsmouth boss in March 2002, won promotion to the top flight Premier League the following season, but resigned after a dispute with Mandaric in 2004.

However, he returned the following year and led the south coast English club to its first FA Cup success for 69 years in 2008, before he left for Tottenham just months later.

His current side are sixth in the Premier League after losing 1-0 to Wolves on Wednesday. Tottenham have given Redknapp their full backing after learning he would face legal proceedings.

Mandaric, who is now chairman of Championship club Leicester City, took over Portsmouth in 1998. The Serbian-American businessman completed the sale of Portsmouth to Alexandre Gaydamak in 2006.

On Wednesday, Portsmouth, who sit bottom of the Premier League, were given seven days to fight a winding-up order over an unpaid tax bill.

Redknapp and Mandaric were previously quizzed, but not charged, in a police investigation into corruption in football in 2007.