FA deserve praise for Allardyce response

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Sam Allardyce became manager of England on the 22nd July 2016, following Roy Hodgson’s departure from the role. Allardyce was seen by many, including myself, as someone who could bring something different to the national team, and could move towards restoring the England team’s image. This will not be the case. After just 67 days in charge, which included one match, Allardyce has ceased to be England’s manager following a mutual decision between him and the FA.

The decision was made following the release of a sting article on 26th September by British newspaper, The Daily Telegraph, in which Allardyce was filmed by undercover reporters – posing as businessmen – talking about ways that laws banning third-party ownership (TPO) in Britain could be circumvented. This article has been revealed to be part of a 10-month long investigation by the paper into the presence of corruption within the English game.

In short, third-party ownership is when a private investor owns part of a player’s economic rights. The most famous case in English football involved the transfers of Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano to West Ham in 2006. In this case, a fund owned part of the economic rights of both of these players. Following this high-profile case, the FA banned such deals in 2008, and last year FIFA issued a worldwide ban.

‘Big Sam’ met with the ‘businessmen’ on two occasions, the most recent being at a restaurant in Manchester, to discuss the possibility of Allardyce going to parts of the Far East to talk on footballing matters. Allardyce is filmed trying to agree a deal that would have secured him £400,000 a year – alongside the £3 million he would have received from the FA – while also commenting on third-party ownership laws, the FA’s revenue, the FA’s renovation of Wembley Stadium, and former England boss Roy Hodgson – whose speech impediment Allardyce mocked.

The releasing of these recordings has landed Allardyce in a lot of hot water, and has given the FA some serious food for thought. New FA Chairman, Greg Clarke, and new FA Chief Executive, Martin Glenn, acted swiftly in arranging an emergency meeting with Allardyce in the morning hours of the 27th September. Indeed, it was following this meeting and other inquiries into the situation that the mutual decision was made to relieve Sam Allardyce of his position. Allardyce was quick to respond, apologising for his inappropriate comments.

The position left behind by Allardyce will be temporarily filled by England Under 21s coach, Gareth Southgate, and he will take charge for the next four matches.

Now it has to be clearly stated that Sam Allardyce did nothing illegal, and he told the undercover reporters that all things would have to be discussed with his employer, the FA, before anything could go ahead. However, it is a hugely embarrassing situation for Allardyce, and I believe that he had to cease being the England manager in order for proceedings to move ahead in the quickest and smoothest possible fashion.

I believe praise has to be given to the new Executives of the FA who have acted quickly and decisively in this situation. The FA has received much scrutiny over the last few years, but in this case they have shown a much needed sign of strength, which may well be useful in the upcoming months.

Moreover, the process of finding the next England manager will have to begin, and the sad thing for England supporters may be that Allardyce was seen as the best man to lead England forward – with few new candidates becoming available in the last two months. Steve Bruce, Eddie Howe, Jürgen Klinsmann, and Gareth Southgate have all been mooted, but it seems that much more care will be taken with this decision following this catastrophic outcome.

Importantly, it isn’t the fact that Sam Allardyce is no longer England manager, or that the FA has to find a replacement, that is most alarming. The most pressing issue that has come from the recent events, is that The Daily Telegraph claims that they have more evidence of corruption in English football. If this is true, then the FA will be falling under much more scrutiny in the upcoming months, especially as a Premier League assistant manager has been similarly implicated by Italian agent, Pino Pagliara.

The last two years have been hugely unstable and insecure for the whole footballing community. This has been due to the fruitful investigations into FIFA corruption, which have seen major figures like Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini get banned from football related activities. Now all eyes will be on the FA, and the possible skeletons they have been keeping deep in their closet while, at the same time, criticising FIFA. It will be very interesting to see if the FA, and indeed just members of the English game, have been hypocritically acting ‘holier than thou’.

On the other hand, I hope for the sake of English football that the can of worms opened by The Daily Telegraph this week can be closed, because the reputation of one of the world’s major Football Associations is under huge threat.

Altogether, it is a worrying time for English football, with a lot of potential danger for the beautiful game. Allardyce may feel aggrieved, calling it a victory for ‘entrapment’, but he should have been more careful with what he said and who he said it to – and it seems like this doesn’t only apply to him. One positive can be taken from this however, despite having the shortest tenure of any England coach in history, Sam Allardyce is the only England manager to have a 100% record – at least something to be proud of.

 

Photograph: Wikipedia

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