Page last updated at 19:40 GMT, Monday, 9 March 2009

Club directors 'took secret fees'

Pride Park
The club's shares were bought for £3

A court has heard how three men used a loan to buy Derby County Football Club then defrauded the club by paying themselves a "secret commission".

Ex-chief executive Jeremy Keith, 41, of Oxfordshire, ex-director Murdo Mackay, 53, of Fife and former finance director Andrew Mackenzie, 55, deny the charges.

All are charged with conspiracy to defraud and conceal criminal property.

The case, at Northampton Crown Court, relates to alleged financial irregularities during a 2003 takeover.

Mark Waters, 48, a businessman from Kent who worked for the board as an accountant in 2003, is also charged with false accounting and conspiracy to conceal criminal property.

A fifth man, David Lowe, 58, of Boulevard des Moulins, Monaco, who worked as a legal advisor during the takeover, is charged with helping to acquire or conceal funds.

Financial struggles

The jury heard Derby County was struggling financially in 2003 following its relegation from the Premier League the previous year.

Prosecutor Richard Sutton QC said the club owed more than £35m and was put into receivership by the Co-operative Bank.

"It was in these circumstances in 2003 that Mr Keith, Mr Mackenzie and Mr Mackay made their move to take over the club," said Mr Sutton.

"The prosecution say they did it in such a way that it would not involve them in any personal financial outlay and they even gave themselves a little bonus in the process."

'Share deal'

The court heard on the same day as the club was put into administration, a company called Sharmine bought the club's shares for £3.

The Panama-based ABC corporation then offered the club a £15m loan to be used over the next 10 years.

"The prosecution case is that Sharmine was the vehicle of Mr Keith, Mr Mackenzie and Mr Mackay," Mr Sutton told the court.

"They, having discovered a potential source of borrowing, were able to hold out the carrot of a £15m loan to the administrators who decided to sell the club for next to nothing."

The jury was told the men charged Derby County "secret commission" of £440,625 for brokering the loan but kept the charges hidden.

The court heard the payments were uncovered in 2006 after a signed affidavit was handed to chairman John Sleightholme by a stranger at the club.

The continuing case has no connection with the club's current board and continues.

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The charges relate to the takeover of the club in 2003



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