In a previous article (JJ passim-29/3/2016- A Tale of Two Enquiries) the sordid past of Sam Allardyce was introduced to readers of this site. Lord Stevens, who chaired the English FA’s investigative team, Quest, issued his commission’s final report on 15 June 2007. Lord Stevens and his team found that there was a case to answer in regard to 17 player transfers, involving five clubs, three managers and numerous agents and other third parties. In summary, the report stated:
“There is no evidence of any irregular payments to current club officials or players, and they are identified only as a consequence of the outstanding issues the inquiry has had with the agents involved.The inquiry remains concerned at the conflict of interest that it believes existed between Craig Allardyce, his father Sam Allardyce – the then manager at Bolton – and the club itself. Agent Pinhas Zahavi has failed to co-operate fully with the inquiry. There was an initial failure to disclose his involvement in a number of transfers but, more seriously, he has failed to provide the inquiry with complete bank statements due to the confidential nature of them. There has also been a lack of responsiveness by Zahavi. There remains questions relating to his relationship with, and payments to, licensed agent Barry Silkman, and with Silkman’s failure to initially disclose his involvement in all the transactions in which he has received fees.There remains inconsistencies in evidence provided by Graeme Souness – a former manager of Newcastle United – and Kenneth Shepherd (son of the former Newcastle chairman Freddy Shepherd)— apparently acting in an undefined role but not as a club official – as to their respective roles in transfer negotiations.”
On 28 November 2007 there were a number of arrests by City of London Police which included Harry Redknapp, Peter Storrie, Milan Mandaric, Amdy Faye, agent Willie McKay, Karren Brady and David Sullivan. At a subsequent trial, Harry Redknapp was acquitted by a jury of his peers. Ibrox was raided by detectives looking into the transfer of Boumsong. It was noted that Graeme Souness received a £30,000 EBT bung for his procurement services as manager of Newcastle United. He may have received more.
It was fortunate that The City of London Police Force conducted the raid at Ibrox. If it had been in the purview of Strathclyde Police, Rangers Head of Security would have been tipped off (just as he was on the identities of HMRC officials) which would have resulted in sufficient shredding to produce a ticker tape parade for Hilary Clinton’s inauguration.One of the more amusing takeaways from the Redknapp hearings was his deposit of £295,000 in a Monaco bank account in the name of his dog. I’m sure there’s no truth in the rumour that is was christened ‘Wonga Woof Woof‘ by the City of London Police dog handlers.
Lord Taylor’s recommendations put paid to any ambitions that Harry Redknapp may have had of securing the top job in English football. Even though he was acquitted, the sleeping dog account was indicative of sleaze. Allardyce, who was even more bent than Redknapp, avoided censure. Allardyce was a ticking time-bomb of sleaze who exploded after only one game in charge of the England team. This is the most embarrassing incident in the FA’s history. Did no-one pause to consider Allardyce’s Swiss bank accounts?
Chapeau to the FA for dismissing Allardyce. He is a venal self-serving man who insists that players in his charge sign up with his agent so that he can get kick backs on any transfer activity. He formerly engaged in this illegal artifice with his son until Lord Taylor exposed him in his report. Did no-one at the FA consult this report by way of a background check on Allardyce? It was readily available in the FA archive. Allardyce is the first head to roll on this debacle, but he won’t be the last. Will Mayday Allardyce continue to be the go-to-guy for teams threatened with relegation? Has his seven-figure bonuses been paid directly to a numbered Swiss bank account?
Allardyce’s sacking is just the tip of an iceberg which we are led to believe is a pile of slush funds. Even though he was picking up a cool £3m per annum and had an expense account to outshine the GDP of a Banana Republic, Allardyce reverted to type to secure £150,000 per five-star gig in Singapore and Hong Kong where he would advise well-heeled Asians on how to circumvent the FA’s rules on the ownership of players’ economic rights. Pause to think about this a little longer than Allardyce did. Can anyone envisage Allardyce turning up at as a Keynote Speaker at the Marina Bay Sands Casino Resort in Singapore to advise the delegates of Asian billionaire’s of a ‘nice little earner’ in England which drives a coach and horses through the FA’s 2008 regulations? Allardyce was even prepared to share cocktails at the bar with delegates. How magnanimous of him. Would he have regaled his guests with politically incorrect anecdotes about his predecessor ‘Woy’ Hodgeson. Would he have made fun of a man’s speech impediment? Is this conduct becoming of an England Manager? Allardyce will not be riding his coach and horses through FA regulations. He will be riding a black liveried hearse.
The revelations of the Daily Telegraph team, captured on tape, are a damning indictment of corruption in the most lucrative league in World football. Manchester United have just released their accounts which revealed that their turnover was £500m in their last financial year. They pay their captain, Wayne Rooney, £17m per annum in a five-year deal that will earn him £85m. When one adds his boot deals, endorsements and his share/compensation for image rights, no-one would be surprised if he netted £150m. Is this why Allardyce was so keen to bite the hands off sting operators? Was he envious of his captain’s earnings in his one game in charge?
It is now evident that the FA’s Quest team failed to root out all the corruption in English football. There are calls in the English press to set up a Quest II investigation. The Telegraph team can give them some pointers on where to initiate inquiries, including:
- A £5,000 cash payment made to the assistant manager of a leading club by an undercover reporter.
- Scott McGarvey, a former Manchester United player turned agent, providing the names of four managers who were willing to take “bungs.”
- The allegation by Pino Pagliara, an unlicenced Italian agent who was banned from football for five years for match-fixing in 2005, that there are more backhanders in the English game than at Wimbledon.
- The allegation that eight current or recent Premier League managers were corruptible.
- The claims that two English Championship club managers have been open to illicit payments.
Given that the Telegraph have passed their file to the police, we should anticipate a slew of dawn raids by the Flying Squad (SDC7) of the Metropolitan Police prior to any intervention by the FA. The ‘bunga bunga‘ Managers may soon be cursing the modern day Sweeney and not the legend of the former demon of Fleet Street.
One of the more colourful characters in the unfolding Telegraph narrative is Pino Pagliara:
Signore Pagliara has revealed that the San Carlo restaurant in Manchester is the unofficial ‘bunga bunga bourse of backhanders.’ Pagliara revealed that a well-known manager would solicit a bung by inquiring whether he would receive a little coffee if a transfer deal went through. Mr Pagliara and two other agents independently named the same eight current or recent Premier League managers who they alleged were known for taking “bungs”, including five they claimed that they had personally paid off.
One snippet of a conversation between Pagliara and a well-known manager is instructive: “How much, Pino? And will it be the same Swiss bank account?” Some of Mr Pagliara’s customers are not as sophisticated as this as yet undisclosed manager (Allardyce?) and prefer paper bags of cash. He further revealed that a former player that was recently elevated to manager prefers a larger slice of the slush pie as his earnings are comparatively low to that of his peers. Mr Pagliara would have us believe that he is providing a vital service in keeping belly from backbone in the cradles of football management.
Signore Pagliara also claimed that one of his customers, a well-know manager, is ‘very bent.’ and he further explained that he had opened Swiss bank accounts on his behalf. In the sordid inverted world of under the counter payments this is probably tantamount to Praise from Caesar.
However Pagliara’s most explosive claim is that this manager fixed a match. Once one takes the bent coin it’s a slippery slope to match fixing.
My personal favourite of the Pagliara allegations is the one where three players are given an £8,000 increase on their monthly salaries on the condition that they kick back £4,000 of it to the manager. A sweetheart deal of £12,000 per month ‘netto’ of any pesky tax responsibilities.
Now that the ink has dried on a £7.2 Billion TV rights deal there’s so much money trickling down to individuals like Pagliara that he’s as happy as a sand boy. He and his stable of bent managers have never had it so good.