Sunday 17 December 2017

Eight managers accused of taking transfer ‘bungs’

Image: PA
Image: PA

Eight current and former Premier League managers stand accused of receiving “bungs” for player transfers after an investigation by ‘The Daily Telegraph’ found widespread evidence of corruption in the English game.

As Sam Allardyce lost his job as England manager following the disclosures about his conduct, the English Football Association faced a separate crisis over the alleged bribery of managers.

Football agents were filmed by undercover reporters boasting about how many managers they had paid, with one agent saying that in football, “everything is under the table”.

Later this week the Daily Telegraph will also disclose the name of an assistant manager at a leading club who was filmed accepting a £5,000 cash payment from undercover reporters posing as representatives of a Far Eastern firm that wanted to invest in players. It leaves the FA facing its biggest crisis in recent years, as it deals with evidence that attempts to clean up the game have failed, while it also has to begin the search for a new manager of the England team.

Gareth Southgate will step into the role on an interim basis.  The manager of England’s U-21 side will be in charge for the imminent qualifiers against Malta and Slovenia, as well as the Scotland qualifier and friendly against Spain in mid-November.

Allardyce became the shortest-reigning permanent England manager in history last night when he lost his job over the Telegraph’s disclosures that he had given advice on how to get around FA rules on player transfers while negotiating a £400,000 deal with a fictitious Far Eastern firm.

His insistence that he would have to clear the deal with the FA was not enough to save him.

He had also embarrassed the FA with unguarded comments about England players, his predecessor Roy Hodgson and the FA itself to undercover reporters posing as representatives of the firm.

He had also embarrassed the FA with unguarded comments about England players, his predecessor Roy Hodgson and the FA itself to undercover reporters posing as representatives of the firm.

Yesterday, following a day of talks between Allardyce, the FA's chairman Greg Clarke and chief executive Martin Glenn, the FA announced that Allardyce had left his £3m a year job "by mutual consent" after just 67 days and one match.

The FA said in a statement: "Allardyce's conduct, as reported today, was inappropriate of the England manager.

"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."

The Telegraph began its investigation into corruption in football 10 months ago after receiving information about figures in the game who were alleged to have given or received backhanders to help big-money deals for players go through.

During a series of meetings with agents, managers and club officials over the summer, undercover reporters built up a dossier of secret recordings and other evidence that suggests corruption remains a major problem in the English game.

The Telegraph has agreed to give all relevant transcripts to the FA and has also passed information to the police.

As well as the eight current and recent Premier League managers named by agents, two bosses of Championship clubs were said to have been open to so-called "bungs" - illicit payments.

Pino Pagliara, an unlicensed Italian agent who was banned from football for five years for match-fixing in 2005, spoke openly about his reliance on the "greed" of managers.

Another agent, Dax Price, said "corruption is just staring you in the face", while a third, Scott McGarvey, admitted to paying managers "readies" for player transfers. Mr Pagliara said that one manager of a Premier League club would ask if there was "a little coffee" for him when a deal was proposed - a euphemism for a kickback.

He said others liked to have money paid into Swiss bank accounts to cover their tracks, and that one well-known manager would phone him with the numbers of accounts in Switzerland into which he wanted money to be paid.


A former Premier League manager has had "more backhanders than Wimbledon", according to Mr Pagliara, while another was allegedly sacked by one club after being "caught with his fingers in the till". Describing the level of corruption in the English game, he said: "Here it's even worse - I thought the Italians were corrupt."

Mr Price even claimed that one manager would take bungs from his own players after inflating their wages in return for an agreement that they would give him a cut of the extra money.

The agents believed they were going to be employed by the fictitious Far Eastern firm, which proposed investing in players via so-called third party ownership, a practice that is banned by the FA and by football's world governing body, Fifa.

To prove their credentials they arranged for the undercover reporters to meet several managers, three of whom discussed becoming ambassadors for the fictitious firm.

It was through Mr McGarvey that the reporters were introduced to Allardyce, leading to his downfall, though Allardyce did not become involved in discussions about "bungs" and chastised his friend McGarvey when he raised the subject during one meeting last week.

The FA now faces serious questions about its own governance, which has failed to root out corruption despite previous attempts to stamp it out.

Richard Caborn, the former sports minister, said before Allardyce's departure: "The FA themselves, to some extent, they're in the dock as well because they've lectured Fifa, they've lectured Uefa about making sure that there's a better governance of the game, that they clean their act up.

"I think therefore the FA now have got to make sure that they act decisively... because then you are looking at the integrity of the game here in England."

Mr Pagliara, Mr Price and Mr McGarvey all denied wrongdoing last night, saying they had never made illegal payments to managers or other people in the game.

The Telegraph contacted all of the managers named by the agents. By last night, five of them had responded with denials of taking bungs, and three had failed to respond. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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