West Bromwich Albion manager Tony Pulis has been ordered to pay £3.8m in damages to former club Crystal Palace after losing a High Court fight over his acrimonious departure two years ago.
The payment – thought to be one of the largest demanded from a manager to a club in English football – was upheld after Pulis’s attempt to challenge a verdict from a tribunal earlier this year failed.
That tribunal found that Pulis had lied in persuading Palace chairman Steve Parish to pay him a £2m bonus ahead of schedule, only to resign the following day, on the eve of the 2014-15 season.
Pulis, who joined West Brom the following January, is required to repay £2.3m for the bonus and related tax and National Insurance payments incurred by Palace, plus £1.5m for breaking his contract.
A High Court judge published details of the case for the first time on Monday after rejecting the appeal from Pulis earlier this month.
What did Pulis argue?
Pulis had argued that he only decided to leave Palace on 13 August following a heated meeting with players about bonuses for the coming campaign at the club’s training ground the previous day.
The previous week Pulis had asked Parish to bring forward payment of the £2m bonus – due to him on 31 August as long as he remained at the club – so that he might complete the purchase of some land for his children.
Parish agreed, having been assured by Pulis that he was happy at the south London club and had no intention of leaving.
What did panel decide?
An arbitration panel found that Pulis had not been close to buying any land and that he had misled Parish for the purpose of obtaining the bonus payment early.
It also found that the dispute with players over bonuses had taken place and indeed been resolved days earlier than Pulis had stated.
Parish had satisfied the panel that he had not been present at the training ground on 12 August – the date on which Pulis had claimed the row took place – because he had been busy elsewhere, including at a hairdressing salon.
Pulis 'misled the club'
“The panel concludes that Mr Pulis deliberately misled Mr Parish concerning his intentions on 8 August with the intention of persuading him to authorise early payment of his bonus,” the judgment reads.
“The panel also accepts that the club relied on Mr Pulis’ representations and assurances both as to his intentions and as to his supposed pressing need for payment in making early payment.
“If Mr Pulis had told the club the truth concerning the supposed property transaction or about the state of his intentions, the club would not have arranged early payment of his bonus.
“The panel concludes that Mr Pulis’ motive in misleading the club was to secure early repayment of his bonus.”