London (AFP) – Sam Allardyce is set for crisis talks with his Football Association employers on Tuesday as the England manager fights to save his job after being caught in a newspaper sting.
Allardyce gave advice on how to circumnavigate transfer rules, criticised the FA’s decision to rebuild Wembley and mocked his England predecessor Roy Hodgson while being secretly filmed by Daily Telegraph reporters posing as Far East businessmen.
Allardyce, 61, appointed England manager in July on a £3 million ($3.9 mn, 3.5 mn euros)-a-year contract, also agreed to travel to Singapore and Hong Kong as an ambassador for their fictitious firm for a fee of £400,000.
Senior FA figures were said to be stunned by the revelations and the former Sunderland and West Ham manager was seen driving away from his home in Bolton, northwest England, early on Tuesday morning amid reports he had been summoned to the governing body’s Wembley headquarters to defend himself.
The FA probe leaves Allardyce in danger of being sacked just one game into his reign.
“I got a call related to the issue and I want the facts in the morning and I will look into it -— it is not appropriate to pre-judge the issue,” FA chairman Greg Clarke told The Times.
“With things like this you have to take a deep breath and have all the facts and hear everything from everyone.
“Then you can make a judgment about what to do and that’s what we will do. Natural justice requires us to get to the bottom of these issues before we make any decision.”
FA chief executive Martin Glenn, who gave the green light to Allardyce’s appointment after Hodgson quit following England’s humiliating Euro 2016 last-16 defeat to Iceland, is said to have spoken to Allardyce on Monday evening, soon after the revelations came out.
And although they want to hear their manager’s side of the story, The Times reported Glenn and Clarke were leaning towards sacking Allardyce — whose only England match to date produced a 1-0 win in Slovakia — just 67 days after he was hired.
– ‘Big money’ –
Allardyce’s problems began when he agreed to meet the undercover Telegraph reporters, who asked if it would be a problem for their fictitious agency to get involved in third-party ownership through funding football transfers, which is banned under FIFA rules.
“It’s not a problem. We got (Enner) Valencia in (at West Ham). He was third-party owned when we bought him from Mexico,” Allardyce replied.
The Telegraph reported Allardyce said he knew of certain agents who were “doing it all the time” and added: “You can still get around it. I mean obviously the big money’s here.
“You get a percentage of the player’s agent’s fee that the agent pays to you, the company, because he’s done that new deal at the club again…It’s massive for doing about two hours’ work.”
He also referred to Hodgson as “Woy”, mimicking his speech impediment, and said the FA had “stupidly spent 870 million pounds” rebuilding Wembley, while also complaining that Prince William, the FA president, had not attended last week’s Euro 2020 launch event in London.
Allardyce also criticised Hodgson’s approach at Euro 2016, saying he was “too indecisive” and “hasn’t got the personality for public speaking”.
He said Hodgson’s assistant manager Gary Neville “was the wrong influence for him. F***ing tell Gary to sit down and shut up, so you can do what you want”.
Allardyce poured scorn on England’s failure at the tournament by saying their players have a “psychological barrier” and “can’t cope”.
The FA is now in a race against the clock to act — England’s next game is a World Cup qualifier against Malta at Wembley on October 8, with the squad set to be named this Sunday.
But Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, who had numerous public spats with Allardyce in the past, offered support for the beleaguered boss.
“You have to let Sam Allardyce defend himself and I just hope he will clear his name,” Wenger said.
“Nothing is proven. At the moment it is only suggestions. We have to be careful, we live in a society that is very quick to accuse people.”
It is not the first time Allardyce, nicknamed “Big Sam”, has been linked with off-field scandals during his long managerial career.
In 2006 he was named in a BBC Panorama programme which alleged that he had taken illegal payments, or “bungs”, as part of transfer deals.
Allardyce denied the claims and an independent investigation by a former top policeman found no evidence of irregular payments.
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