Sport Soccer

Saturday 10 December 2016

Allardyce pays the price for sting as he steps down after just 67 days in England job

Rob Harris in London

Published 28/09/2016 | 02:30

Sam Allardyce
Sam Allardyce

SAM ALLARDYCE lost his job as England manager last night just 24 hours after a newspaper revealed how he used his position to negotiate a £400,000 deal and advised businessmen on how to "get around" FA rules on player transfers.

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The FA said it had decided to "part company" with its head coach, describing the conduct exposed by the newspaper as "inappropriate of the England manager". A statement released at 8pm set out how the decision was taken "to protect the wider interests of the game", despite an apology by Allardyce for what he said was an error of judgment.

The decision made the 61-year-old the shortest-serving permanent manager in the history of the national team, having overseen just one game since his appointment in July.

In a statement released last night, Allardyce said: "I recognise I made some comments which have caused embarrassment. As part of today's meeting, I was asked to clarify what I said and the context in which the conversations took place. I have co-operated fully in this regard. I also regret my comments with regard to other individuals."

Inappropriate

Upon Allardyce's departure Martin Glenn, the FA chief executive, said: "His behaviour has been inappropriate, and frankly not what is expected of an England manager discussing a range of issues from potential contravention of FA rules through to personal comments that frankly just don't work when you're the manager of England."

It came after a day of growing pressure on the FA to take "decisive action" after 'The Daily Telegraph's' disclosures.

The newspaper's investigation had revealed how Allardyce negotiated a deal with men purporting to represent a Far East firm that was hoping to profit from the Premier League's billion-pound transfer market. He agreed to travel to Singapore and Hong Kong as an ambassador and explained to the "businessmen" how they could circumvent Football Association rules which prohibit third parties "owning" players.

The paper alerted Allardyce to its investigation on Monday morning, sending a series of 15 questions to the England manager via his employers. The questions detailed findings relating to Allardyce from a 10-month investigation into football. A separate set of queries, detailing the findings, were put to the FA itself.

Nine hours later, Allardyce had still failed to respond to the questions about his dealings

Around the same time though, Allardyce's agent was already telling friends that the England manager "could be sacked by the weekend".

Mark Curtis, who helped broker the deal with the fictitious company for Allardyce, already believed that the disclosures could lead to the manager's dismissal by the end of the week. Publicly, Allardyce, his advisers and the FA were tight-lipped.

Greg Clarke, the FA chairman, and Mr Glenn are understood to have reviewed the newspaper reports and then called Allardyce. He finished the call feeling that his chances of holding on to his dream job were slim.

Later that evening, Mr Clarke disclosed to a journalist that he was launching a full investigation into Allardyce's actions. He said: "I got a call related to the issue and I want the facts in the morning and I will look into it - it is not appropriate to pre-judge the issue. With things like this you have to take a deep breath and have all the facts and hear everything from everyone.

At 7am yesterday, Allardyce left his home near Manchester to drive to London to face his employers. The pressure on him was already mounting, with the claims against him on the front pages of newspapers and leading broadcast news bulletins.

To many observers, it was clear that the manager would have a tough fight ahead to keep his role. As well as the appropriateness of an England manager suggesting ways around FA rules on player transfers, Allardyce was taking heavy flak for his indiscretions about the national squad and for mocking his predecessor Roy Hodgson's speech impediment by calling him "Woy" and saying he was no use as a public speaker because "he'd send them all to sleep".

In 2012, the FA had accused the 'Sun' newspaper of "unacceptable" behaviour after it poked fun at Hodgson with the headline "Woy Gets England Job…Bwing On The Euwos".

The FA said the headline was "disrespectful" and "in poor taste", suggesting they may have taken a dim view of Allardyce's comments at the meeting.

Behind the scenes Allardyce was preparing to meet Mr Clarke, Mr Glenn and Dan Ashworth, the FA's technical director.

He had decided to apologise for his actions and effectively throw himself at their mercy, saying that he now realised it was an error of judgment to discuss third-party ownership at the meeting and that he was separately apologising to Hodgson. He would also make clear that he had told the fictitious company that any final deal for him to carry out paid speaking engagements for them in the Far East would have to be run past the FA.

But his employers had decided that an apology was not enough and at 4pm his fate had been decided. The organisation that had two months earlier announced Allardyce as the "unanimous choice" of their selection panel - including Mr Glenn and Mr Ashworth - had decided he had to go.

Terminate

"Allardyce's conduct was inappropriate of the England manager," the FA said in a statement two hours later.

"He accepts he made a significant error of judgment and has apologised. However, due to the serious nature of his actions, the FA and Allardyce have mutually agreed to terminate his contract with immediate effect.

"This is not a decision that was taken lightly but the FA's priority is to protect the wider interests of the game and maintain the highest standards of conduct in football. The manager of the England men's senior team is a position which must demonstrate strong leadership and show respect for the integrity of the game at all times."

Following the announcement Mr Clarke said the FA's disciplinary department was launching an investigation into Allardyce's actions. Now the spotlight is likely to fall on his employers.

Irish Independent

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