Former Chief Executive Called Before Alvarez Hearing
The Ricky Alvarez trial reconvenes this week. The hearing before the Court of Arbitration in Sport (CAS) commenced on 9th December.
Sunderland and FC Internazionale Milan are before CAS to conclude their dispute over Ricardo Alvarez.
The Argentinian was on loan at the Stadium of Light the season before last, and the agreement between the two clubs contained a clause which would trigger a permanent deal if Sunderland avoided relegation. Which they did.
For their part, Sunderland have counter-claimed that Alvarez arrived with a knee injury that Inter had not attended to, nor had they made Sunderland aware of; and that the Italian club's hesitation over treating the problem negated the deal.
Then Sunderland Chief Executive, Margaret Byrne, has already been called to attend and presumably been asked to give evidence about her understanding of the deal and how events panned out.
Byrne is now fully engaged as a football agent following her resignation from the post of CEO at Sunderland. She has already helped broker the transfer of Yannick Bolasie from Crystal Palace to Everton in a £25m deal.
Margaret Byrne will forever be remembered for her part in the Adam Johnson fall-out. Hers will be the name associated with the football club that goes down in history for her self-declared 'serious mistake' at the time of his arrest and subsequent trial.
More significantly though, considering the current plight of Sunderland's league status and the upcoming mid-season transfer window, the outcome will have little bearing on player recruitment next month. There have been several reports since the summer that suggested if Sunderland were to lose the Alvarez case that it would impact on David Moyes' January transfer plans.
That was simply because should the CAS find in Inter's favour, Sunderland would be forced to pay the Italian giants a sum of around £8.5m. With money already accepted as being tight for Moyes in the upcoming transfer window, a dent of that figure would be significant.
But, reports in Italy over the weekend have suggested the final verdict will not be delivered until March. The current schedule will see witnesses and evidence presented before the quasi-judicial body until late January or early February. Therefore, no payment will be made, if Sunderland, lose before the spring.
The saga has been ongoing in litigation for eighteen months already having previously been heard by a FIFA tribunal. Reports also indicate that Inter made provision for the £8.5m written off in its 2014-15 and 2015-16 accounts. Presumably Sunderland have done similar though it hasn't been clear from publicly available accounts.
In fact, Inter Milan have two cases with the court presently. The other is with Romanian club, Steaua Bucharest over a curious case involving goalkeeper Ionut Radu. Steaua released the player in 2013 but have since claimed they are owed compensation from the Milan Nerazzuri which has never been paid.
Internazional Milan have had a problematic 2016. The Italian giants have struggled to compete in Serie A. They endured a poor start to this season under Dutchman, Frank de Boer, who has since been replaced by Italian, Stefano Piolo, and there have been continued rumblings of discontent behind the scenes as new owners have riled supporters with on and off-field decisions amid accusations of money hemmorhaging from the club.
Meanwhile, Ricky Alvarez is one of several players' names caught up in another round of tax avoidance suggestions in world and Italian football. German newspaper, Der Spiegel, has claimed several Argentinian footballers' transfer and image rights deals have been subject to elaborate mechanisms to divert money to tax havens in Panama and the British Virgin Islands. There is no suggestion of any of the players personally being involved in any wrong-doing.