Owls fans rejoice at Mandaric verdict

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WEDNESDAY fans today said it was time for the Owls to move forward after club chairman Milan Mandaric was cleared of tax fiddling charges.

Mr Mandaric and Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp, who were jointly charged with tax evasion, were acquitted on all charges at London’s Southwark Crown Court yesterday.

The verdict blew the final whistle on a five-year £8 million police investigation which failed to yield a single conviction.

The Owlstalk fans forum was full of messages of support for Mr Mandaric within minutes of yesterday’s verdict.

Forum owner Neil Hargreaves said: “The case must have been on Mr Mandaric’s mind for some time. And, who knows, this may have had a knock-on effect on the club.

“How many players have we put off from signing because of the situation and the effect a guilty verdict would have had on the club’s finances?”

Nigel Short, chairman of fans’ group Wednesdayite, said: “The verdict is what we all expected.

“I think the HMRC inspectors who brought this case to court should concentrate on the many fat cats who really do avoid paying tax.

“Wednesdayites are delighted at the outcome and perhaps now we - fans and club - can all move on together.”

John Hemmingham, leader of the Wednesday band, added: “As a Wednesdayite I’m so glad and relieved it’s all over.

“But the court case ever coming about beggars belief really. Both Milan and Harry Redknapp are extremely rich men. Why would they avoid paying a bit of tax like this when they pay tax on so much already?”

The news was applauded by former Wednesday director and ex-Bassetlaw MP Joe Ashton - who said the case should never have got to court.

He said: “Milan Mandaric seems a decent bloke and has brought a lot to the game of football.

“He said all along that the taxman hadn’t got a case and that was proved to be so.

“But how much has this all cost?

“Millions of pounds spent to bring a case to court for no other reason than for barristers and solicitors to get fat courtesy of the taxpayer.

“Heads should roll for this. The people who brought this about need to be brought to book.”

Mr Mandaric said his court ordeal had been a ‘horrible dream’ but that he always had faith in the British justice system.

The 73-year-old Serbian-born millionaire said he now wants to concentrate on Wednesday winning games.

He added: “I would rather not talk much now. I’ve got to go somewhere to try to pinch myself and wake me up from that horrible dream that I had.”