Investigators from Lord Stevens' bungs inquiry team have contacted Pini Zahavi to seek the super-agent's assistance in the ongoing investigation into alleged financial irregularities in the transfer market.
The Quest team is understood to have contacted Zahavi in the last two weeks to seek a meeting. The agent, one of the most colourful and controversial figures in the game, has put the matter in the hands of his solicitors and is understood to be willing to cooperate with the investigators. It is thought an interview could take place this week.
Lord Stevens announced before Christmas that suspicions still surrounded 17 transfers of 362 he was charged with investigating, adding that eight agents had refused to help the inquiry, significantly hindering progress. Zahavi said yesterday he had cooperated with Quest via his legal advisers. "We have given them everything they asked for," he said.
The approach to Zahavi comes as the Stevens investigation enters its second phase. The former Metropolitan Police commissioner effectively closed his initial inquiry last month, issuing a long list of recommendations but no names of clubs or individuals who had broken regulations.
In the next 10 days the Premier League, the Football Association and Quest are expected to finalise the terms of reference for a joint inquiry to investigate the remaining 17 transfers and compel the eight agents to cooperate. With some Premiership clubs increasingly nervous about the scrutiny, the Premier League executive is anxious that the next stage of the inquiry be seen as a fresh start under the aegis of the national governing body, rather than as "Stevens MkII".
The approach to Zahavi signals that the inquiry is focused on compelling agents to cooperate. Last week Quest's managing director Nigel Layton met officials from the FA's compliance department to seek their help in forcing the agents to open their books. The FA was given the names of the eight agents Quest want to talk to and asked to pass them to Fifa, which as the licensing body has the power to compel agents to cooperate.
Zahavi has had a highly influential career as agent and adviser to players and clubs. A close adviser to Roman Abramovich, Zahavi helped set up the Russian's Chelsea purchase, brokered a meeting between Abramovich and Sven-Goran Eriksson, then England manager, and was present at the Ashley Cole tapping-up meeting. He also introduced Kia Joorabchian to West Ham's board and is said to have played a role in Alexandre Gaydamak's