The Football Association’s ‘Bunga Bunga’ Bourse of Backhanders.


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:

  1. A £5,000 cash payment made to the assistant manager of a leading club by an undercover reporter.
  2. Scott McGarvey, a former Manchester United player turned agent, providing the names of four managers who were willing to take “bungs.”
  3.  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.
  4. The allegation that eight current or recent Premier League managers were corruptible.
  5. 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:


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.











36 thoughts on “The Football Association’s ‘Bunga Bunga’ Bourse of Backhanders.”

  1. Maybe this will the pin that bursts the balloon of cash in England and Europe? If this happens it will not be before time! The greed factor shown by these millionaires is breathtaking.
    It would be nice to get back to playing football on the park, instead of in the bank accounts!
    Daydream over!

  2. If the President of the SFA was able to receive an EBT and survive, do we really believe the corruption only exists in England?
    Enjoy your articles and have made a small donation.

  3. If the names of any Scottish managers, past or present, emerge in this investigation I wonder if the forces of law and order will be knocking at their doors. No? I didn’t think so.

  4. Why in its first year in 2013 did Sevco’s Charles Green sack McCoist’s Chief Scout Neil Murray from Auchenhowie?

    What did Merlin allude to when he said “The fix is in” and what was he alluding to when he said he had knowledge that would blow the lid off the game.

    Surely the cash flow these days is newspaper money to give your story?

    In Scotland, 13 years of SPL and cups were bought with tax avoidance offshore trusts and non repaid bank debt.

    Bungs to managers is small fry.

    1. Perhaps Charles, Imran Ahmad or Brian Stockbridge can tell us why he was sacked? Or even Mr Souper?

      Why were all Mr Souper’s players paid such high weekly wages for the amateur fourth tier in Scottish football?

  5. A superb piece.

    I did take The Telegraph this morning and read Pagliara’s comments about corruption in the English game. I mean, this is coming from an Italian in one of the most corrupt leagues in the world! But his words were measured and I did like his reference to English football having more backhanders than we will see on a day at Wimbledon. Very amusing.

    The game seems to be ‘bent’ at all levels. I recall, just about (!), being a young professional in London in the early ’80s. I was asked to help out with the finances of an ailing but important north London team.

    One of our directors was very flamboyant and had inherited the family fortune which was based on holiday parks for the less well off. They still trade to this day.

    Anyhow, ‘Billy’, with his registration plate BB1 was an outrageous gay. He made Graeme Norton look butch. Billy was an incredibly kind man who did so much for the club and local good causes.

    And so, when he took me out to lunch on Finchley Road one day, he explained to me that he had arranged for Nottingham Forest, European CHAMPIONS to play us in a mid week pre season friendly. I asked him how on earth had he managed that stunning coup and he explained that he was on intimate terms with a Forest (married) board member.

    He told me to ‘fix’ it. I didn’t know what that meant and, foolishly, didn’t ask.

    On the evening of the game, the European Champions bus turned up at our dilapidated little ground. We were there to meet and greet them. The ground was packed. Record takings and we even hired a caterer rather than getting Mike’s wife to make the sandwiches (Mike was the Chairman at the time).

    The team bus parked up and out walked Brian Clough. He made a beeline for a somewhat nervous TM, me. “Where’s me f###ing money lad? We don’t get off that f###ing bus without my f###ing cash.”

    It transpired that Billy had agreed an arrangement fee of £5000, payable in cash, but hadn’t told me.

    We raided the gate receipts and we found a further £1000 from our own pockets.

    I chose not to watch the game and went back to my flat, upset and much the wiser.

    These folks, like Allardyce, Clough, Alex Ferguson and many others are not ‘cheeky chappies’.

    They are crooks who lost their way and a moral compass.

    1. I heard a story that Cloughie received a bag full of cash for bringing Forest to a testimonial game in Scotland. It was a very big bag and it was very full. The person who told me the story told me the source – if true , it is impeccable.

  6. I’m afraid easy money attracts crooks – always has – always will. A few grand per month here or there is sawdust on the floor compared to the billions sloshing around the EPL. It you don’t want crooks and bungs in your industry, you must be prepared to invest heavily in regulation, compliance and policing to get it out – then keep investing to keep it out. Again – lots of money to you and I but not in proportion to EPL riches. The FA has shown no understanding of, nor appetite for such action. The fact that The Telegraph can obtain so much damning evidence so easily tells the whole tale. They’ve done us all a service.

    Allardyce is the fool of all fools. He landed the easiest most lavishly paid job in world football vis-à-vis performance expectations and security of tenure – but is too stupid, stupid, stupid to keep his fingers out the till or his big mouth shut for 10 weeks.

    Did anyone imagine this man would not be a monumental embarrassment to England and the FA on the world stage sooner rather than later. Well apparently the FA denizens didn’t imagine. They all need to clean the rice pudding from their moustaches, step off their own gravy train at the next station and speak to any football fan in the street who could have told them that Big Sam is dodgier than Dodge City and should not be touched with a barge pole.

    At the same time the Wembley mega-brains we selecting Allardyce as the outstanding candidate, David Bernstein was recommending root and branch reform following the entirely predictable greatest embarrassment in English football ever. ( Maybe it’s time to listen to him because his gentlemanly manner belies a deep understanding of how to turn around failing organizations – not least Man City.

    The key deficiency I would point at is the absence of an FA process for developing young managers capable of leading EPF, EFL and top league foreign clubs. Why is England a net importer of football managers – including from Scotland? Why is the choice of home grown talent so poor that we need to even consider the likes of Allardyce who has won precisely NOTHING. Why are the FA officials choosing England managers so astoundingly stupid and insulated from reality that they ever thought Allardyce could be a worthy ambassador for our country? Who is firing these worthless old duffers? . . . . and breathe . . . . and breathe . . . . and breathe

  7. “We have been clear that we expect the highest standards of governance and transparency from sports governing bodies, here in the UK and on the international stage. In this context, the recent allegations regarding English football are very concerning and we will be discussing the matter with the football authorities.” Sports Minister Tracey Crouch. From the BBC website in relation to Allardyce story.
    Maybe a discussion with the SFA would be in order.

    1. The FA make our SFA clowns look like rank amateurs in the corruption stakes….. Or is it just that our media won’t probe? Well done the Telegraph…. will SMSM do anything similar…

      1. At least the FA has been prodded into action by the media who employ investigative journalism to expose unsavoury practices. In Scotland we have corruption of of a totally different order, where the sporting governing body is enmeshed in the corruption along with clubs, and the media has been bought off or intimidated into silence.
        I’m struggling to remember the last time a Scottish-based publication did an investigation worthy of the name into any aspect of government/business in this country.

    2. I think Sport is devolved to Holyrood in Scotland.

      Good luck there with SNP keeping the SFA honest. It was Alex Salmond who gave them their directives.

  8. That is an extraordinary story, TM, one which could identify you. As with JJ, I don’t always agree with you but i applaud your candour and, perhaps, your personal courage in this instance.

    There are some seriously rotten apples rolling around the bottom of the barrel of football in Britain. The phrase, “Brian loves a bung” was common currency when I was working in England in the Eighties. I’m old enough to recall two of my Celtic schoolboy heroes, Dick Beattie and Bobby Evans, being mentioned in despatches for their shenanigans in English football. You will remember Tony Kay and Bronco Layne, I’m sure.

    Given that I’ve always known what goes on, I can’t believe I still invest so much emotional intensity in sport in general, football in particular.

    1. 6pm stv news stated Hibernian have paid their allocated damages but TRFC have not.

      SFA now stating damages cannot be enforced for fans actions under the SFA rules.

      Will Hibernian get their damages costs returned?

      This appears to be an excuse to protect TRFC from fans vandalism liability considering the damages TRFC fans are executing, could it seriously financially impact the club?

      It’s a future cash known unknown that must terrify their board.

    2. And the Record still spouting the ‘Hibs fans violence’ alternate reality. Fair play to them, despite the ever increasing ridiculousness of their position since ill advisedly toeing the level 5 line, their brass neck hasn’t lost its shine.

  9. I find some of this fairly disgusting. If these people know of 8 managers who are on the take, why are they not named. It is all too easy to make accusations, the fans thrive on them as well as on tap room gossip (Mr Warbuton has 2 games to save himself), but most of it never becomes substantive accusations or comes to pass. Until names are named I will treat this as just sensationalised rumour.

  10. From the BBC website, the Daily Telegraph defended it’s investigation…

    “We began looking into corruption in English football last year after receiving information about specific managers, officials and agents – before Allardyce was appointed England manager,” said a spokesperson for the newspaper.

    “We have an obligation to investigate important stories that are clearly within the public interest and adhere to our industry codes of practice in doing so.”

    If only the SMSM fulfilled similar obligations!

  11. As the £7.2billion TV money gets broken down and passes hands, will HMRC get their legal % at every single transaction?

    Let’s face it, the only reason for bungs instead of fees these days is to cut out HMRC. All activity becomes legal if it goes through the books and HMRC get their legal share of the deal.

    Consultant fees instead of bungs is where the clever folks are. The old guys are left behind.

  12. For those who like a bit of an ancient history, this Allardyce story full of (unproven) allegations was out and about 10 years ago this very month, coincidentally practically a decade to the day.

    That is, a year before the 2007 Stevens probe. As far as i am aware, BBC Panorama was never sued over this:

    In fact, if they had been sued it would not still be readable online.

    Reading his reaction, and the way he suffered from “deceit” and “innuendo”, it seems Big Sam has been unfairly targeted over 10 years with a series of investigations; Panorama, Lord Stevens, and now the Telegraph (“entrapment”)

    One hopes that the former biscuit salesman now running the laughing stock that is the English FA now takes time to make an informed decision regarding the next appointment…

    1. Entrapment my arse. If he was entrapped, where are his lawyers promising writs for everyone in sight. If the FA had any balls they would have sacked him. In my experience “by mutual agreement” means he’s been paid off shut up and f*ck off – an official FA bung it you like.

  13. Its a bit off topic – but someone really ought to pin todays back pages to Chris Union Jack’s head, just to let him know that European nights like Celtic enjoyed yesterday are why Scotland should continue to aspire to be Champions League participants. Supporters of provincial teams already know it…. the glory moments don’t come often but to be in with teams of a higher calibre and acquit yourself well – maybe even win – is all the sweeter when it comes against the odds. Football should be about aspiration and any team from any place being able to make it to the pinnacle. Its why Leicester’s story captured the imagination. The man has spent so long waving pom-poms beside DJ that he’s forgotten what football is like without a sense of entitlement.

    1. Jackass, Jack & Johnstone are the three stooges of the SMSM. From what we have witnessed so far this season there will be no CL football for Rangers in 2017/2018. Six years will have elapsed since a Rangers iteration were irregularly allowed to participate in a CL tournament. Last night’s result and performance will stick in Jack’s craw. This is his rationale for tearing the CL temple down.

      1. TRFC will not get CL for the next five years. In a good year they will get the Europa League for a few games. This is not enough money at all to stabilise them or to pay for better players.

        Year on year, money needs to go in from RRM just to keep it afloat. How long can that cash burning appetite last?

        Meanwhile cfc bring in the biggest revenue by far in Scotland. The brand is outstanding, merchandise, season tickets, tv, CL ….. as the cfc squad is added to the gap in quality increases and TRFC is left further behind.

        Success breeding success at cfc with downward spiral at TRFC burning a hole in people’s private wealth.

    2. TJ, I need to declare an interest here. I’m a City fan man and boy and last night was fantastic! I share your pleasure in the drama and spirit of the game. People forget that despite their recent mega bucks, City have seen many up and downs and know what it is like to be overshadowed and dismissed by the European aristocracy. Football won last night – it was a credit to everyone involved: players, staff, offiicilas and most of all fans. Football can be a joy even when you don’t win – and if the SMSM cannot celebrate with us then they desire to choke on their bitterness. To be honest, I expected Celtic to tire and City to get a late winner, but as it worked out, I wouldn’t change the result.

  14. tring tring…

    good morning the sfa youre thru to stu how may i help you

    stu its greg clarke of the fa here, i understand…….

    yes i thought you’d call greg am ready willing and able and can clear my desk this afternoon and be with you tomorrow……

    no stu… i understand you have this chap bryson who can devise a perfect imperfect player registration scam emm i mean scheme and i am on to arrange a short term loan deal for bryson to sort out a minor local difficulty we have at present. an above board fee will be payable of course , and on this occasion one in the hipper will not apply….

    you still there stu….. brrrrrrrrrrrr

  15. As the extra £8k is on their monthly salary then wouldn’t the tax/NI contributions on it be such that to give the Manager £4k back would leave the 3 players worse off than if they didn’t receive the £8k?

  16. As A younger man I did a lot of work in Africa. Whilst there I read that the President of Mali, I think it was, had demanded that all public Servants disclose in full their bank accounts. Those who could not justify their wealth were immediately sacked and subjected to further investigation. One wonders if this should be demanded here of all public bodies or ‘public’ authorities. One wonders what we might find.

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