A former Liverpool football star who blamed his lawyers after he lost £6million on a disastrous business venture with his brother has lost his High Court claim for compensation.
Irish full-back Steve Finnan, 47, enjoyed a successful Premier League career, winning Champions League and FA Cup winners’ medals while with Liverpool in the 2000s.
But unlike many of his former teammates, including Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher, he went into property not punditry after his retirement, setting up a housing empire with his brother, Sean.
However, the relationship proved disastrous, with the brothers falling out and eventually Mr Finnan claiming he had been left more than £6m out of pocket.
The Liverpool legend sold his 2005 Champions League winner’s medal for at least £12,000 as well as his match worn shirts in 2020.
The former defender spent five years at Liverpool between 2003 and 2008 during his career
Liverpool’s Stephen Finnan with Milan’s Hernan Crespo during the 2005 Champions League final
Finnan has put a replica European trophy up for grabs as well as the shirt he wore in Istanbul
Representing himself in court, he sued his former lawyers, Charles Russell Speechlys LLP, blaming their allegedly negligent advice for his losses.
But this week his case was kicked out by High Court judge, Master Katherine McQuail, who said that, whatever advice the former footballer was given, he had not shown how he could have come out of the dispute any better than he in fact did.
Limerick-born Mr Finnan began his career with non-league Welling United, rising through the football pyramid to eventually play for Liverpool between 2003 and 2008.
He played for Ireland 52 times and, in 2005, was part of the Liverpool team which famously came back from 3-0 down to win the Champions League against Milan.
He is the only footballer to have played in the World Cup, Champions League, UEFA Cup, Intertoto Cup, all four levels of English league football and the conference.
He retired in 2010 and went into property, providing the cash for a south west London-based property business, run through two companies which he owned with his brother, Sean.
Among the portfolio of the business, which was managed by Sean, were a substantial house in The Green, beside Wimbledon Common, properties in nearby Ridgeway Place, and several flats elsewhere.
Master McQuail said the ‘first expression of the claimant’s concerns’ about the business had come in an email from Mr Finnan to the companies’ solicitor in 2016.
She said he complained that despite ‘significant funding from the claimant by way of loans, the companies appeared to have no money, at least in part because Sean had spent it personally.’
Finnan (circled) is selling the medal he won after Liverpool’s 2005 Champions League final win
He said money had been wasted on legal issues which were ‘down to Sean,’ that his brother’s dealings with a contractor had been ‘needlessly expensive’ and that there was a risk the companies would default on loans.
Mr Finnan spoke to Charles Russell Speechlys and instructed the firm to file ‘unfair prejudice’ petitions against his brother.
Sean defended the claims, admitting there had been an ‘irretrievable break down of mutual trust and confidence’ with his brother, but denying any misconduct.
Mr Finnan then changed his lawyers, but the case did not go to trial, with the brothers settling outside court, with Sean agreeing to transfer his shares in the company which owned The Green to Mr Finnan and to pay him £4m.
That sum was not paid and in 2019 and Mr Finnan had his brother adjudged bankrupt.
He said his only recoveries from the disaster were £187,570 from the sale of the company which owned The Green and £89,345 following the sale of another property.
Mr Finnan went on to sue his former solicitors, claiming that he should have been advised to request repayment of director’s loans he had made to the companies, rather than file the ‘unfair prejudice’ petitions.
He said he had lost £3.3m in loans to the companies, £2.6m in shares, about £400,000 in lawyers’ bills, as well as other money, totalling more than £6m.
However the solicitors defended the claim, insisting that Mr Finnan had been determined to pursue legal proceedings against his brother.
He had also failed to show how he could have escaped from the situation in any better position than he in fact did, since the companies had no money to repay his loans with anyway.
Giving judgment for the solicitors, Master McQuail said whatever advice he received, Mr Finnan had in fact made demands for repayment of the directors’ loans – and got nothing.
‘Neither Sean nor the companies responded by meeting the demands with payment at any stage after Charles Russell Speechlys were instructed,’ she said.
Finnan retired from the game in 2010 after Portsmouth’s defeat by Chelsea in the FA Cup final
‘There is no evidence of the means, against the background of the known cash position and the known eventual working out of the settlement agreement, by which the making of any such demands would or could have led to a better result than that which the claimant actually achieved.’
She added: ‘The claimant’s case that he was not advised to make demands is contradicted by his own evidence and the correspondence that shows that demands were in fact made.
‘The fact is that Sean did not respond to any demands after Charles Russell Speechlys were instructed by making or causing the companies to make any repayment.
‘There is nothing in the claimant’s evidence which supports a credible and realistic case that any different and better outcome than he achieved could ever have been achieved.
‘I am therefore satisfied that the claimant’s presently pleaded particulars of claim disclose no reasonable ground for bringing the claim.’
She struck out Mr Finnan’s claim.
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