Laudrup claims innocence in awkward tax case

Danish football legend astounded that his former club would call for his presence in a tax case through a newspaper announcement

Denmark’s most prominent football name contends that he is innocent in a tax dispute involving his former club, Ajax Amsterdam.

The case revolves around a signing-on fee that Michael Laudrup received in connection with his transfer from Japan's Vissel Kobe to Ajax back in 1997. No tax was ever paid on that fee, leading Dutch tax officials to ransack Ajax’s offices and the homes of a number of players and staff, including Laudrup’s, in 2001.

The tax authorities spent a couple of years finding out that there were no grounds for opening up a criminal case against those involved, but they did end up slapping Ajax with a 22.4 million kroner fine.

But while the chapter has been over for Laudrup since 2003, last week, Ajax decided to reopen old wounds by placing an announcement in the Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf calling for the Dane to meet up at the tax authority offices on August 29 in connection with the case. Ajax claim Laudrup owes them money from the tax settlement.

“Now, eight years later a new Ajax management tries to get money back. A professional club looking for a person who is the coach in the world’s most watched football league via a newspaper ad. What is going on?” Laudrup wrote to the Ritzau news bureau. “Every stone has been turned in this case and the details are known already and have been so for eight or ten years!”

Laudrup’s long-time agent, Bayram Tutumlu, was furious about how Ajax has proceeded, labelling them a “small-time club”. Laudrup’s current club, Swansea FC, echoed the sentiment.

“I have spoken to Michael at length about his tax issue. He is shocked. Ajax have portrayed him as a criminal – as a tramp without a proper address or place to live,” Swansea director John van Zweden said according to the English newspaper Daily Mirror. “We are taking about the manager of Swansea City. Ajax make out that this is a criminal who is hiding and sleeping under bridges next to a river.”

But according to Dutch journalist, Dennis Jansen, who is covering the case for Algemeen Dagblad newspaper, Ajax insist they are simply following standard procedure.

“Ajax have explained that this is the correct and formal way to go about it. They also said that they don’t have his address in Swansea,” Jansen told Ekstra Bladet newspaper.

Laudrup led Ajax to the Dutch championship and cup triumph during the 1997-1998 season, the only one he was with the club. He retired from playing professional football shortly after.

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