Wednesday 17 January 2018

Committee of MPs told that Neil Warnock 'made players pay him to get into team'

Neil Warnock
Neil Warnock

Gordon Raymer

Neil Warnock, the manager of Cardiff City FC, was accused of making players pay him part of their wages to ensure they got into the team, a committee of MPs has heard.

One of Warnock's players alleged that he gave players "extra wages and appearance bonus to make sure they pay him to get in the team or on the bench".

The claim was made by Jason Puncheon, who played for Warnock in 2014 when Warnock was manager of Premier League side Crystal Palace and also played for him during a loan spell at Queens Park Rangers in 2011.

Puncheon made allegations against Warnock in a series of tweets which were later deleted and resulted in him being fined £15,000 by the Football Association for failing to act in the best interests of the game.

They were raised by Damian Collins, acting chairman of the parliamentary culture, media and sport committee, in a hearing convened following revelations made by the Telegraph's investigation into the integrity of football.

It was also confirmed that Sam Allardyce, who lost his job as England manager as a result of comments he made to undercover Telegraph reporters, was given a pay-off by the FA despite admitting he was in the wrong.

Mr Collins asked Greg Clarke, chairman of the FA, whether the governing body had a "lack of curiosity" about accusations of wrongdoing in the game that had appeared in the media in recent years.

He quoted Puncheon's tweets, which the player posted in response to criticism of him by Warnock on a radio programme.

The player said: "What I won't accept is an opinion from a man who's crooked and ruining the game - Neil Warnock, the man who signs players, gives them extra wages n app bonus to make sure they pay him to get in the team or on the bench.

"The fact he could even talk about training is shocking, he was never there."

Mr Clarke was asked why the FA had not contacted Puncheon to ask him why he made the comments, rather than fining him.

He said he had not been in his job at the time, and was unaware of what had happened, to which Mr Collins replied: "I think it would be pretty poor if someone has gone public and they don't have any contact from the FA asking why have they made this allegation."

Robert Sullivan, the FA's director of strategy, who was also giving evidence, said: "There are comments made on social media and there is hard evidence."

Warnock, 67, has managed 17 different clubs at Premier League level and below during a 36-year career in management.

Turning to the subject of Allardyce's departure, the committee asked whether the FA had done enough due diligence on Allardyce before he was appointed, given that questions about his conduct had been raised in a previous FA-commissioned investigation into corruption.

Mr Clarke said he had not been able to ascertain whether Allardyce was asked about the investigation or about a Panorama programme which also made allegations about his conduct.

Mr Collins said: "The FA appointed a manager who was a central figure in the biggest ever investigation into [the transfer market]. David Gill [vice chairman of the FA] said no-one saw this coming. I think everyone saw this coming except the FA."

Mr Clarke said: "I will find out whether those questions were asked."

He confirmed that Allardyce was given a pay-off when he left his post, but would not disclose how much. Previous reports have suggested the sum was £1 million.

Jason McCartney MP asked Mr Clarke: "How can you justify getting rid of an England manager who was in the wrong and paying him off when there are grass roots clubs who are struggling to get teams out onto the pitch?"

Mr Clarke said: "By following the law of the land and taking advice from an eminent QC.

"I think any right-thinking person would rather spend the money on facilities for people who play the game."

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