Could (the Chairman's) loose lips sink Bolton Wanderers' ship?

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There is a lot being made of an interview that Phil Gartside gave to talkSPORT radio the other day. The questions ranged from what life as a football club Chairman is like to his history with Bolton Wanderers to the team's darkest moment but the one that's made the largest is impact concerned Bolton's transfer of Dietmar Hamann. It was a move that both Sam Allardyce and Gartside would refer to as Bolton's greatest ever in later years but could Gartside's interview open up a can of worms for the Trotters?

First, a bit of a recap. Back in the summer, when the Alex Baptiste transfer saga was raging on, we compared Ian Holloway's advances to that of the Didi Hamann situation. It went a bit like this:

The year was 2006 and Bolton Wanderers had finished the previous season in a very respectable eighth place with Stelios Giannakopoulous bringing in 12 goals across all competitions. It was in June of that summer that Liverpool great Dietmar Hamann had signed a pre-contract to move to Bolton from the Reds.

He was announced as a Whites player on Tuesday, 11 July 2006 and less than a day later, he had a "change of heart." Hamann would explain that he "made the decision too quick" and would ultimately sign for Manchester City, where he would stay for three years and make just over 50 appearances. City would pay Bolton £400,000 as compensation for Hamann and Sam Allardyce, then Bolton's Manager, would say that this was the "best transfer deal I have ever done in my life."

The assumption for all parties not named Bolton Wanderers Football Club is that Hamann and the Trotters had signed all the paperwork and that the deal was done. According to Gartside though, that was not the case. Speaking to talkSPORT, Gartside said:

"The full story never actually came out.

"What happened was Didi signed for us on a free transfer from Liverpool, came in, signed the papers, and then, for whatever reason, decided it wasn't for you and that you wanted to reconsider. We said to you ‘I'm sorry about that, but you've signed' but what you never realized was that we never actually countersigned the papers and just put them in the draw.

"The next thing we know, you came along and told us you'd got this opportunity to go to Manchester City so we actually sold you without actually signing you, did you know that? We got £400,000 from Manchester City for a player we never actually signed. And that's the truth."

It is the "never actually countersigned the papers" bit that is the most interesting because it indicates that Wanderers never actually owned Dietmar Hamann's and thus may have been in the wrong to accept the payment from Manchester City.

Whether Manchester City will feel aggrieved by this or take certainly remains to be seen. £400,000 isn't a major sum for the City like it once was but it could pay 1.5 of their players' salaries for the week. It is, however, a substantial sum for the Trotters, making up a relatively large percentage of this summer's transfer expenditures.

Questions remain about about whether this was simply an honest mistake, if Man City could see this as deception, or whether they were simply naive to not check Bolton's paperwork.

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