Harry Redknapp is to be tried on two charges of tax evasion in January, with the outcome of the case could determine his future as manager of Tottenham Hotspur and his chances of fulfilling an oft-stated ambition to lead the English national team.
Two counts of "cheating the public revenue" have been brought by a London Crown Court against Redknapp and Milan Mandaric, formerly the manager's employer at Portsmouth and currently the chairman of Sheffield Wednesday, a third-tier club. The charges address payments made to a Monaco bank account totalling $295,000 (Dh1.08 million) on which UK income tax and national insurance were not declared.
The court case is expected to last two weeks and could potentially lead to jail sentences. A court-directed media ban was lifted yesterday to allow strictly limited reporting of a revised trial schedule beginning on January 23 and the charges against the pair.
Redknapp is on leave of absence from managing Tottenham after undergoing what was described as a "routine heart procedure" at the beginning of this month. Both he and Mandaric have consistently stated their innocence regarding charges they first heard at City of Westminster Magistrates' Court in February last year.
Were Redknapp to be found guilty on either count, Tottenham would be in a position to dismiss him as manager. It would also affect his status as favourite to replace Fabio Capello as England manager after Euro 2012.
Tottenham are understood to be working on a contingency plan should Redknapp need to be replaced. David Moyes, Mark Hughes and Carlo Ancelotti are all potential candidates.
Though the latter has been actively courted by Paris Saint-Germain, he would prefer another high-level Premier League position and is expected to wait until at least the New Year before deciding his own future.