Peter Harrison (footballer)
|Full name||Michael Peter Harrison|
|Place of birth||Newcastle upon Tyne, England|
|Playing position||Centre back|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only|
Michael Peter Harrison, better known as Peter Harrison, is an English former footballer, manager and football agent. In 2006, he came to the public's attention after being filmed by an undercover reporter for a Panorama documentary entitled "Undercover: Football's Dirty Secrets".
Playing and managerial career
Harrison had a reasonably short football career, playing for Nottingham Forest, Gateshead and Belgian side Charleroi. He then moved on to manage Hebburn, before taking a year out away from football.
In 1995, he was appointed as Harry Dunn's replacement at Blyth Spartans. Harrison kept the caretaker managers Tony Lowery and David McCreery on as part of the backroom staff, with the intention of Lowery being his assistant coach and McCreery in a consultant role. However, after a few weeks, Lowery joined Bedlington Terriers and McCreery took up a new role in the USA to help promote the inaugural Major League Soccer season. Harrison brought in his former Gateshead teammate Derek Bell soon afterwards, in a player-assistant role. Harrison led the club to sixth place in the 1995–96 season. He could not replicate the same form the following season, and after one win in ten matches, he handed in his resignation after a 4-0 defeat to Leek Town. John Burridge, who was playing for the club at the time, became caretaker manager, and eventually, Harrison's successor.
Career as a football agent
As a football agent, he was responsible for Ali Dia's move to Gateshead, following the infamous 53-minute appearance for Southampton. Harrison was a friend of Gateshead's chairman John Gibson, and as the club were struggling to find players, he turned to Harrison, who suggested Dia. The Senegalese had played under Harrison, making one appearance for Blyth Spartans. He joined the Tynesiders, scoring two goals in eight matches, leaving in 1997, following a change of manager. Harrison later became a licensed FIFA football agent and represented many players including Lucas Neill, Ali Al-Habsi, Eiður Guðjohnsen, Jussi Jääskeläinen, Hidetoshi Nakata and Andy Carroll. He was also the agent of Rivaldo, who following his release from A.C. Milan, was linked with a move to Bolton Wanderers, but in the end, moved to Olympiacos.
In 2006, he was filmed by an undercover reporter for Panorama's "Undercover: Football's Dirty Secrets", and featured prominently in the documentary. Well known figures in football shown in the documentary include:
- Harry Redknapp, who discussed with Harrison on the possibility on buying Andy Todd. Redknapp later denied the conversation with Harrison amounted to "tapping up".
- Kevin Bond, who admitted he would consider discussing receiving payments from a proposed new agency involving Harrison. Bond later denied that he had taken a bung or had ever taken a bung. He was first team coach at Newcastle United at the time of broadcast, and was relieved of his duties following the revelations.
- Frank Arnesen, then-director of youth football at Chelsea, who was filmed "tapping up" Middlesbrough's Nathan Porritt and offers a fee of £150,000 spread over three years as an incentive to relocate. Both of these allegations are against FA rules. Harrison is shown to privately decline the offer and decides to look elsewhere. (Porritt ended up staying at Middlesbrough, but never made an appearance for the first team.)
- Sam Allardyce, who was allegedly bribed by Harrison, in regards with new signings to Bolton Wanderers, to pay his son Craig, also an agent, the money. Allardyce strenuously denies the allegations.
In a statement to the Evening Chronicle, Harrison said, "Have a good look at the programme and see where the bungs are. There aren't any. There is no film, no evidence of them happening at all; no money changes hands. I've been in football for a lot of years and I've never had anything at all to do with bungs and I wouldn't want to."
Harrison had previous dealings with Allardyce – in 2005, Allardyce loaned him and Lucas Neill £300,000 to fund a property development at Laverick Hall Farm, Gateshead into 14 homes, and the agreement was to repay Allardyce £600,000 plus interest, but the development was never built. The then-Bolton Wanderers manager took legal action against Harrison and Neill to recoup his money through the High Court in 2007, claiming some £650,000 plus interest and costs, and the pair conceded and agreed to repay it. In 2009, Harrison faced a bankruptcy hearing in which the court made the order for £782,000 – it had emerged that he has already paid back around £650,000.
In an interview with The Daily Mail, Harrison admitted taking advantage of the then-chairman of West Ham United, Eggert Magnússon, over the 2007 transfer of Neill to the Hammers. Neill was initially going to Liverpool, but West Ham United offered a better wage packet. At the time, Neill refuted that the transfer was monetary reasons, stating the move was for purely footballing reasons.
Harrison represented Andy Carroll since the age of 16, and successfully negotiated his first professional contract and subsequent deals at Newcastle United. However, Carroll had told him that he wanted to be represented by Swiss-born Italian football agent Walter Palombo , a couple of months after signing a two-year contract with Harrison. In the aftermath of Carroll's £35 million transfer to Liverpool, the Reds used Walter Palombo, a well-known Italian agent (although Carroll stated otherwise; he had taken advice from a solicitor, Richard Green). Palombo is an associate of Curtis, and Harrison had been reported to have sued Carroll for loss of earnings (as per FA rules), which was referred to arbitration. He also lost Jussi Jääskeläinen, then at West Ham United, to Curtis around this time.
Curtis has represented Allardyce for years, and was at odds with Harrison, following the Panorama documentary. In 2012, Harrison made a number of accusations on Twitter towards Curtis, Allardyce and Bolton Wanderers chairman and FA board member Phil Gartside. These actions resulted in a threat of legal action from the FA to protect Gartside.
He retired as a football agent later that year, after the FA arbitration panel found against him in the Andy Carroll deal.
In 2010, Harrison was the public face behind the takeover of Olympic Charleroi, and was described as the general manager by the club's secretary and the president by the team coach. Although he appeared on Belgian TV outlining his plans for the club, his lawyers described him simply as an "ambassador" for Olympic, who merely "encouraged" players to sign. The club went into insolvency, struggled to pay bills and players' wages, and some young players become hungry and homeless. According to FIFA rules, an applicant for a players' agent licence may not hold a position at a club. Harrison declined to speak to the BBC over the matter.
Harrison is twice divorced. Harrison has 4 children, Michael (20), Kat (17), Nathalie and Jamie.
- "Agent bung probe". Evening Chronicle. 20 September 2006. Retrieved 30 October 2015.
- "The managerial history of Blyth Spartans AFC". Blyth Spirit. 2 January 2015. Retrieved 30 October 2015.
- Heffernan, Conor (24 April 2004). "Summertime Madness: The Untold Story Of Ali Dia". Pundit Arena. Retrieved 30 October 2015.
- "Rivaldo agent confident of Bolton deal". The Daily Telegraph. 24 April 2004. Retrieved 30 October 2015.
- "Agents claim manager was bribed". BBC News. 19 June 2006.
- Whetstone, Sean (20 Feb 2014). "ANDY CARROLL'S FORMER AGENT DAY IN COURT". West Ham Till I Die.
- Ashton, Neil (23 September 2011). "EXCLUSIVE: Top agent lifts the lid on football's murky secrets". The Daily Mail. Retrieved 30 October 2015.
- Dunn, Alex (23 January 2007). "Neill rejects cash claims". Sky Sports.[permanent dead link]
- Scott, Matt (2 February 2011). "New twist to Andy Carroll's legal battle with agent". The Guardian. Retrieved 30 October 2015.
- Conn, David (15 March 2011). "Mystery over role of agent Liverpool used in Andy Carroll transfer". The Guardian. Retrieved 30 October 2015.
- Conn, David (16 March 2011). "So did Andy Carroll use an agent to sign for Liverpool?". The Guardian. Retrieved 30 October 2015.
- "Football agent Peter Harrison 'behind club takeover'". BBC News. 12 November 2012. Retrieved 30 October 2015.