Spanish daily El Pais said Barca’s president Joan Gaspart called in auditors as part of an in-house probe by the club’s lawyers. The accountants will be studying recent transactions to ensure there were no irregularities and ‘certify’ the signing of the two players.
Gaspart said he wanted to ‘disperse any doubts’ adding: ‘I will not allow anyone to mess around with Barca’s prestige, nor the honourability of the people who work for the club.’
He was responding to allegations made by French midfielder Emmanuel Petit who claimed ‘cash had gone missing’ when he and Overmars moved from London to Barcelona for a combined fee of Pounds 32.5m at the end of the 1999 season.
The French World Cup star has had a miserable time at Barcelona, unable to command a place in the side and will return to England this season after signing with London club Chelsea.
Gaspart said the PwC audit was an ‘extra precaution’ to check that the amount shown in the contract was the same as the sum paid by Barcelona and received by Arsenal. In addition he said bank statements from the both Barclays of London and Spanish bank La Caixa, where Arsenal and Barcelona respectively hold accounts, showed the correct monies had been paid and received.
Gunners vice-chairman David Dein said that the club had received ‘every penny’ it was owed from the transfer of Petit and Overmaars.
But the club said it was not its policy to comment on transfer news and dismissed the Pounds 32.5m as pure speculation.
PwC in Spain and Barcelona Football Club refused to comment.
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