Premier League boss ordered to pay millions to former club after ‘deception’

West Brom manager Tony Pulis © Russell Cheyne
The manager of English Premier League side West Bromwich Albion Tony Pulis has been ordered to pay his former club Crystal Palace £3.77 million ($4.6 million) by a High Court judge.

The 58-year-old had challenged a decision by a Premier League Managers' Arbitration Tribunal to pay Palace damages after his departure in August 2014.

The dispute revolved around the payment of a £2 million ($2.5 million) ‘survival bonus’ for keeping Palace in England's top tier and remaining employed by the club until August 31, 2014.

Pulis had guided Palace to safety in the 2013/14 season, but told club chairman Steve Parish on August 13 that he wanted to leave, departing the following day, 48 hours before the opening game of the 2014/15 Premier League season.

Palace argued that Pulis had deceived the club into paying the bonus early by claiming he was “committed” to the club and “urgently needed the money early” so he could buy some land for his children.

The club also disputed Pulis’ claims that a “heated players meeting” (HPM) had taken place on August 12, with Parish providing evidence he was elsewhere on the day in question.

The mediation panel ruled it took place on August 8 – four days before he received the payment. Judge Sir Michael Burton dismissed the appeal after upholding the panel's verdict that Pulis had made two false representations.

“The arbitrators set the oral evidence for the claimant against the following,” the ruling read, as reported by the Guardian.

“First, the evidence of Mr. Parish, the chairman, in the following paragraphs. In paragraph 45 the evidence of Mr. Parish is recorded that the HPM could not have taken place on August 12 as the claimant claimed, since he, Mr. Parish, was not at the training ground on August 12.

“But so far as Mr. Parish is concerned, the arbitrators set out in paragraphs 56, 57, 62, 63, 64 and 78 to 79 the evidence which was adduced as to Mr. Parish's movements on August 12, and the supportive evidence of taxi fares, of telecommunications evidence called as expert evidence, and the hairdressing salon at which he attended on the relevant morning when the HPM is said to have occurred, and the arbitrators were persuaded by that evidence.”

The original ruling found Pulis' standards of conduct had “been shown to be disgraceful” – a point cemented by Judge Burton who said he had “reached a consequential conclusion that it was appropriate in the circumstances to make an award of indemnity costs because of their conclusions as to the conduct of the claimant.”

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Pulis originally took charge at Selhurst Park in November 2013 on a 30-month contract. He led the team away from the threat of relegation to 11th place in the table and was named Premier League manager of the year at the end of the season.

After leaving Palace he joined West Brom the following January.

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