Premiership 'bungs': Panorama investigation
I watched the Tuesday night showing of Panorama undercover operation to expose those in the Premiership who are alleged to be involved in accepting payments for influencing the transfer of a player to their club. A UEFA football coach posed as a willing fresh football agent and made contact with another agent who was believed to be involved in the 'bungs', Teni Yerima, someone based in France. Together with two other agents, Peter Harrison and Charles Collymore, these agents were alleged to have revealed certain managers in the Premiership who are interested in receiving ex gratia payments for the influencing of a player signing for a club.
Others who were implicated in the programme were Chelsea's head of development and scouting, Frank Arnesen, Liverpool youth representatives, Portsmouth's Harry Redknapp, former Portsmouth and current Newcastle first team coach Kevin Bond, Bolton Wanderers manager Sam Allardyce and his son, former agent Craig Allardyce.
There are ample voices in football who state there is nothing substantial on the footage to categorically show an official accepting personally, physically, monies clearly earmarked as illegal payments. Luton Town manager Mike Newell came forward and stated he was approached with an offer of an illegal payment and he indicated Collymore as the agent in question. That is about as substantial as it gets, for me.
Yerima, Collymore and Harrison were seen to state there are certain managers in the EPL who will accept illegal payments, with a few names mentioned. The crux of the investigation fell on one particularly named manager, Allardyce, and his son Craig. Craig was said to accept illegal payments on his father's behalf, with particular regard to the purchases of Hidetoshi Nakata, Tal Ben Haim, and reserve keeper Ali Al-Habsi. Harrison attended meetings with the undercover 'agent', Knut auf dem Berge, at Chelsea and Liverpool to discuss purchasing a Middlesbrough youth player Nathan Porritt, without the club's knowledge, much less permission. Middlesbrough are more concerned about Harrison and will report him to the FA.
It is easier to say a payment is for one thing when it is in fact for something else. How Lord Stevens will come to any significant conclusions after his investigation will be interesting. For those in the know, the illegal conduct is certainly there, but I want to know who and how rife. Two other points. Wasn't there an Italian official, possibly from Juventus though it could be from another club or aspect in Italian football, who gave the hint or made a question of corruption in the EPL? Also, Craig Allardyce believes his workings as an agent, as he has now resigned, went against his father being chosen as England coach to replace Sven Goran Eriksson. Were the FA aware of something earlier in the grapevine, then?