City today admitted the £155,000 compensation bill they must stump up for Mark Stewart is a “bitter pill to swallow”.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport’s long-awaited ruling on the club’s appeal shaved £65,000 off the original fee that FIFA had decided they owed Falkirk in training compensation.
But the revised figure still effectively makes Stewart, who played only 15 games without scoring a goal, the most expensive City signing since Robert Molenaar when they were in the Premier League.
The CAS decision ended nearly two and a half years of wrangling with Falkirk after the striker was signed by Peter Jackson in 2011.
Director of operations David Baldwin said: “I am disappointed and I can’t hide from that. But FIFA had already ordered us to pay 250,000 euros (£217,000) from an initial claim made by Falkirk of 330,000.
“We’ve now got that down to 185,000, so putting in the appeal was the right thing to do. We’ve had 25 per cent reduced off FIFA’s ruling but it’s still a bitter pill to swallow.”
Baldwin took City’s fight to the CAS headquarters in Switzerland last November, where he pleaded their case with legal team Simon Csoka QC of Carmelite Chambers and Ben Jones from Bradford law firm Petherbridge Bassra.
He said: “It has caused a lot of stress. I had nothing to do with signing the player in the first place and I’ve only been involved in trying to fight the claim.
“It’s not a valuation of the player, it’s the calculation of training compensation based on the structure set up by FIFA.
“But from the club’s point of view, we obviously didn’t see value for money in our transaction.
“We have accounted for the money in its entirety but obviously it is still disappointing. But it’s now time to draw a line under the situation and move on.”
With the legal fees from the case – of which City must pay 80 per cent – the total bill comes to just under £200,000.
Stewart is now playing for Derry City in Ireland after being released by his last club, Kilmarnock, in January.
He was recommended to City by the late Archie Christie after finishing top scorer in the Scottish First Division but failed to adapt to the English game.
But Stewart’s struggles did give Nahki Wells, who had arrived for free in the same period, his first break.