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Friday, September 22, 2006

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?


RedsMan.

3 Comments:

Blogger BlindJak said...

Unless Lord Stevens has been give access to player, manager, agent and club accounts and a team of forensic accountants it's hard to see just how he’ll have any concrete proof of bungs.

What is it about Panorama and football? They’ve tried making several shows over the past decade showing the dirty side of the game from hooliganism, Romans Past, bungs and other assorted topics but all have turned out to be nothing more than hype running terrible short on substance.

About the best they can do is talk about corruption, show a face and play some sombre ‘cheating’ music in the hope that the viewers will draw the conclusion they are being led to.

For example Reddknap. Easy target had there have been rumours about him for years. So show him talking to a bent agent about a free junket to the world cup. Must be a bung right? Wrong. I take out clients at work on corporate hospitality in order to foster good relations and there is nothing expected in return for this. How many other prominent football chairmen chief execs were offered such junkets by their sponsors/kit makers? Would these have been considered bungs?

A couple of Chelsea players have been allowed the use of Romans yacht. Should the FA investigate this as incentives outside of contractual payment? Of course not.

So lets show Harry being offered a free holiday, gloss over the context, and then let the viewers add 2+2 to = bung.

All in all the program just confirmed the demise of a one great journalistic institution.

9/22/2006 1:49 pm

 
Blogger RedsMan said...

In regard to Harry Redknapp, if he is to be indicted on account of that footage, then blessed be our law courts because there was nothing untoward from what Harry said. I remember him saying he was interested in Andy Todd, expressing a likeness for Todd's ability and what it could bring to Portsmouth. I find it puzzling to think Panorama are actually linking Redknapp to bungs as a result. Kevin Bond ummed and aahed but nothing substantial.

Chelsea and Liverpool implicated but the 'agent' didn't say to Arnesen 'Look, Boro knows nothing about this, it's without their knowledge, OK?', for us to hear, then Arnesen replies 'OK, no problem.' The same thing with the Liverpool representatives, who were not even named, I don't know what to read into that. I despised us being linked to such impracticality. The narration said the LFC reps knew Boro had no knowledge but we didn't hear words said and understood to suggest this.

However, there seems more of a doubt with Allardyce. Both Yerima and Harrison said Allardyce accepts bungs, indirectly through his son Craig. Collymore may have mentioned his name too. The conversation Craig had with the BBC reporter, either Criag was pulling him along or he was absurdly stupid. Craig has since resigned as a football agent and it's a question of why.

As for Lord Stevens allowed access, I'm not confident. What needs to be hidden will be and as BJ said, without scrunity the likes of which would have our Secret Services in admiration, Im also not confident of my learned friend's outcome.

It's one thing to announce measures, it's another to actually implement them. It's a third to do them right.



RedsMan.

9/22/2006 2:37 pm

 
Blogger T said...

Thanks Redsman for writing about this on EFT. I too watched the programme and honestly do not believe the agent's who were saying they were deliberatley misleading the undercover journalists when talking about financial inducements to smooth over a deal.

Furthermore, there are questions that need to be asked re Allardyce and his son. At the time of the siging of Ali Al-Habsi I questioned to myself why was this deal made... and it comes as no surprise to me that this is one of the deals under suspicion.

I very much hope that the FA's investigation is thorough and rigorous. We'll wait and see if it is...

9/23/2006 12:47 pm

 

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