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Bristol Rovers: Phillips' agent flagged up Wanderers rule breach
THE agent given a six-month ban for his role in the sale of Matt Phillips to Blackpool advised Bristol Rovers that Wanderers had breached rules relating to third party investment, the Pirates have said.
Rovers said in a letter published on their website they are looking to take legal action against Wanderers and will be seeking damages from the Adams Park club.
They claim Blues were given a "wrongfully obtained competitive advantage" last season because sanctions they feel should have been imposed would have led to Rovers surviving relegation from League Two at Wycombe's expense.
Wanderers stayed up on goal difference on a dramatic final day of the season, but the Gas say their rivals should have been handed a points deduction for breaching agent regulations after irregularities in Phillips' 2010 transfer came to light.
Wanderers pleaded guilty to breaching rule C2 of The FA’s Football Agents Regulations after it emerged Phillips' agent, Phil Smith, was to be paid a proportion of a 25 per cent sell-on fee instead of commission. They were last week handed a £10,000 and warned as to their future conduct.
Rovers say that during the disciplinary hearing it emerged all money received from any future transfer of Phillips would go to paying off outstanding debts to Wanderers' former owner Steve Hayes.
The Pirates say this constitutes third party ownership - a claim denied by Wycombe, who this week said they are confident the club has no case to answer.
In the letter to the FA published on the Bristol Rovers website it is revealed Smith told the Pirates about the revelations himself. Smith was given a two year ban from acting as an agent, of which 18 months was suspended.
The law firm who represented Smith at that hearing have been called in by Rovers to outline their argument to the FA - that they should have retained their Football League status at Wanderers' expense if Blues had been handed a points deduction.
A retrospective points deduction would appear unlikely if precedents are anything to go by, however.
West Ham were found guilty of third party involvement for their signings of Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano but escaped with a fine instead of the points deduction and subsequent relegation that rivals Sheffield United called for.
And in 2002 Boston United had a four point penalty for contract irregularities held over until the next season - meaning they were still able to take their place in the Football League after winning the Conference title ahead of Dagenham and Redbridge.
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