Saturday 18 November 2017

Soccer boss accused of making team 'pay to play'

Cardiff City boss Neil Warnock Photo: Simon Galloway/PA Wire
Cardiff City boss Neil Warnock Photo: Simon Galloway/PA Wire

Gordon Rayner

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 that were later deleted and resulted in him being fined £15,000 (€16,600) by the Football Association (FA) for failing to act in the best interests of the game.

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

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.

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