Saturday 23 September 2017

Allardyce facing questions from FA

Sam Allardyce
Sam Allardyce

Sam Allardyce used his position as England manager to negotiate a £400,000 deal and offered advice to businessmen on how to “get around” FA rules on player transfers, according to a report in The Daily Telegraph.

Before he had even held his first training session as England’s new head coach, 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.

Unbeknown to Allardyce, the businessmen were undercover reporters.

He was being filmed as part of a 10-month Telegraph investigation that separately unearthed widespread evidence of bribery and corruption in British football.

Over the course of two meetings - lasting four hours in total, Allardyce told the fictitious businessmen that it was "not a problem" to bypass the rules introduced by his employers in 2008.

He said he knew of certain agents who were "doing it all the time" and added: "You can still get around it. I mean obviously the big money's here."

During Allardyce's meetings with the reporters he also:

* Criticised his predecessor Roy Hodgson, dubbing him "Woy" and saying that he "hasn't got the personality for it".

* Said England's players were underperforming because they had a "Psychological barrier" and "can't cope".

* Suggested that players who were not being played for their club should not be picked for England.

* Described the FA decision to redevelop Wembley as "stupid" and says the country's governing body is "all about making money".

The issue of 'third party ownership' in football has been described as "slavery". It effectively allows companies to own a stake in a footballer.

The FA led the way by banning the practice in 2008 and football's world governing body FIFA followed in 2015.

Allardyce (61) told his prospective employers it was "not a problem" to dodge the "ridiculous" rules.

Last week the England manager followed up his initial meeting by having dinner with representatives of the fictitious firm in a Manchester restaurant, where he discussed dates when he could fly to Singapore.

Bonuses

Allardyce, who is paid £3m a year plus bonuses by the FA, now faces questions about his judgement just weeks after his first and so far only match in charge of the national side.

During the meetings he also made a series of inappropriate remarks about the previous performances of the England team. He said that Roy Hodgson was "too indecisive" during England's crucial European Championship defeat to Iceland.

The Daily Telegraph began investigating corruption in English football last year after receiving information that specific managers, officials and agents were taking or receiving cash payments to secure player transfers.

Over the coming days the UK newspaper will detail a series of allegations of financial impropriety in British football which raise serious questions about the governance and influence of money within the game.

During this summer's transfer window, Premier League clubs spent a record £1.17bn on player transfers, with Championship clubs adding another £214m.

The disclosures are likely to raise concerns at the FA about corruption in English football and whether the industry is adequately regulated.

Allardyce's comments are likely to lead to questions from his employers at the FA, who expect the England manager to effectively act as an ambassador.

A £400,000 agreement with a football agency firm is a potential conflict of interest for an international football manager as it raises the possibility that he is "employed" by a company whose footballer clients could benefit from preferential treatment.

Allardyce told undercover reporters that the banned practice was still possible in "all of South America, Portugal, Spain, Belgium, all of Africa" and that Ecuadorian player Enner Valencia had been under a third party ownership agreement when he signed him for £12m for West Ham from a Mexican club in 2014.

The third party ownership arrangement ended on the transfer and West Ham acquired the player "whole".

Asked if it would be a problem to get involved in third party ownership. Allardyce said: "It's not a problem."

Third party ownership involves an agent or an investor owning part of the financial rights to a player, meaning transfer fees are partly paid to them when a player moves clubs, rather than the buying club paying all the money to the selling club.

It has been banned in England for eight years after the Premier League compared it to "indentured slavery".

Appointed

During a meeting at a London hotel in August, Allardyce, who was appointed by the FA on July 22, was happy to discuss third party ownership of players with two undercover reporters posing as representatives of a Far East-based company looking to get a foothold in the lucrative world of English football.

He attended the meeting with his agent, Mark Curtis, and his financial adviser, Shane Moloney, after being approached via football agent Scott McGarvey, a long-time friend of Allardyce who was unaware of the undercover reporters' involvement.

Moloney asked Allardyce: "What do you think they're doing on the football transfers financing. . . the thing they're talking about is funding football transfers."

Curtis interjected: "Is that third party ownership a problem though?"

Allardyce replied: "It's not a problem. . . we got Valencia in. He was third party owned when we bought him from Mexico." Moloney interjected, making it clear that the ownership arrangement ended with the transfer.

Allardyce also gave advice on where third party ownership was still possible, despite the worldwide FIFA ban.

Allardyce has not been immune to controversy during his career managing clubs including West Ham, Sunderland and Bolton Wanderers.

In 2006 he was implicated in a BBC Panorama programme which alleged that he had taken "bungs" - a claim he denied. An independent investigation by former Metropolitan Police commissioner Lord Stevens found no evidence of irregular payments.

The Telegraph detailed its findings in an email to the FA yesterday morning which set out 18 questions about its findings, including Allardyce's comments in the two meetings.

However, the FA declined to answer any of the questions without receiving full transcripts of the conversations.

A spokesman replied nine hours later saying: "We have asked the Daily Telegraph to provide us with the full facts in relation to this matter and are awaiting their response."

Telegraph.co.uk

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport