Allardyce’s broken England dream: dodgy entrapment or just deserts

Sam Allardyce - a Sunderland love story gone wrong
Sam Allardyce – a Sunderland love story gone wrong, followed by the merest flirtation with England

Monsieur Salut writes: Despite far too many decades as a journalist (three of them with The Daily Telegraph), I have serious misgivings about sting operations. They may sometimes uncover genuine malpractice but, among a number of concerns, I wonder who polices the stinger, in this case the Telegraph. This newspaper has after all spent several years getting rid of the sort of seasoned, sensible and in many case outstandingly good journalists who might have been trusted with such a role. For some reason, it makes me think of speed cops hiding behind bushes, as happens in France. It’s, well, just not British.

That said, Sam Allardyce has been a very foolish man. Pete Sixsmith takes up the story and offers scant sympathy …

Many of us will be familiar with the fable of the scorpion and the frog.

It’s where a scorpion persuades a frog to carry him across a fast flowing stream on the frog’s back. The frog is reluctant to do it, believing that the scorpion will sting him and kill him but the scorpion assures him that it would be a stupid thing to do as they would both drown.

So they set off and as sure as eggs are eggs, the scorpion stings the frog. As he expires, the frog says: “Why did you do that – we’ll both die now?” To which the scorpion replies: “I couldn’t help it, it’s in my nature.”

As it is with the former manager of Sunderland AFC and England Sam Allardyce. Put a lucrative deal in front of him and it is in his nature to take it, irrespective of the fact that he is earning £3m a year and is in the job that he always wanted. Oh dear, O lord, O dear as Walter Gabriel used to spout in The Bull at Ambridge.

In many ways he is guilty of nothing more than greed, avarice and stupidity, none of which are really sacking offences. For many of us, the first two are essential components of our working lives. The third one is something that most of us have been guilty of – we have recognised we were wrong, gone out of our way not to do it again and learned from it. But then, we were not the England manager.

Was there entrapment? Yes. Was it justified? Well, the Telegraph circulation manager will certainly think so. Was the sting considered when Allardyce was Sunderland manager? I know not. But if it was, they knew who to go for.

He has a history of being up for the money does Sam. Panorama raised serious questions about him in 2007 and named his son Craig as a man who sometimes found it difficult to decide what was within the rules and regulations and what wasn’t.

Three incoming transfers to Bolton Wanderers were never signed off by the FA. One of the players involved, Tal Ben Haim, ended up at Portsmouth, managed by Harry Redknapp, and eventually played half a season on Wearside.

So, there was form. He signed Enver Valencia when his playing rights were owned by a consortium but West Ham made sure that they followed the regulations correctly – or so we are told.

I have little interest in the national team and would not be bothered if they appointed Mike and Bernie Winters to manage it. But I am concerned that the most recent ex-Sunderland manager has been uncovered as a serial taker and I begin to wonder about a few things that have happened recently, viz; the “promise” made to Kone of a new contract if we stayed up. What was the precise involvement in this matter of Sam, Willie McKay or Allardyce’s agent, Mark Curtis?

Was Ellis Short aware of any sharp practices or hints of them? If so, that may explain his reluctance to provide Sam with any money to spend in the transfer window.

Is Allardyce the iceberg or is he just the tip of it? Who else will be exposed as a serial taker and will any of us be surprised at who they may be?

Allardyce did a good job in keeping us up last season. He created a team spirit that we no longer appear to have. He worked with Yedlin and van Aanholt and improved them. We were delighted with what he did and accepted, grudgingly perhaps, that the England job was a fair reward for a man who had managed a mixture of unfashionable and dysfunctional clubs for his entire career.

What many of us did not like was the fact that he had nothing to say to the supporters when he left [at least not until it seemed rather late, almost an afterthought -Ed]. It was all “me, me, me” with no recognition of the support he had from the terraces. He was rarely criticised on the message boards or in these columns as many accepted that he had little of any substance to work with.

But that night at Hartlepool when he was offered the England job, he never once mentioned Sunderland AFC or the support. He lost a lot of friends because of it.

The Germans have a word for it and as usual, it’s a long one; schadenfreude. It means to take some pleasure at someone’s bad fortune and there will be a few Sunderland supporters this morning thinking that.

We may be bottom of the league, we may have a team that cannot defend, we may well be on our way to the Championship and a renewal of our rivalry with our Tyneside friends, but we may also have dodged a bullet with Allardyce. We shall see.

Pete Sixsmith
Pete Sixsmith

19 thoughts on “Allardyce’s broken England dream: dodgy entrapment or just deserts”

  1. I still don’t understand why the buying club, pays the players agent. Surely his/her fee should be met by the player? This alone would help to clean up one tiny area of an increasingly murky world.

  2. No side comes out looking good for me. Press, FA or Big Sam.
    Sam was ill advised to take the England job, which is a curse for all managers, no one has left that job with their integrity intact since Alf Ramsay. It was always a hard task to succeed in, the press being no 1 obstacle.

    The FA were fools for appointing a man whose past was far from squeaky clean.

    The press practiced entrapment to get what I consider an easy story. Is the world a better place? I don’t think so.
    Sam broke some arbitrary rules of a game of football.

    But he was guilty of not reporting this business offer knowing what he did about it, in breach of his employment contract. That was his mistake, he should have immediately gone to the FA to report it, but the greed/complacency is obviously there.

    All in all not an edifying episode for anyone.

  3. I’ll admit to occasionally having done something stupid but I can honestly say that greed and avarice have never been motivations in my working life.

    As for the morality of sting operations, surely if people play by the rules and maintain their own moral standards, sting operations are doomed to failure unless of course the stingers fabricate events.

    It’s like people complaining that speed cameras are immoral. Don’t break the speed limit and you don’t get done as long as the speed guns are correctly calibrated. Simples! If you are going too fast and get caught whose fault is that? You may consider the limit unreasonable but that doesn’t mean you can choose to disregard it with impunity.

    If you choose to break the law (or in this case encourage the breaking of FA rules) then take responsibility for your actions, accept the outcome and don’t complain if you get caught out.

  4. A different view. Lots of people ,myself included have a clause in their employment contract saying you can’t use your role/ position for personal gain. That’s why he had to go. With hindsight, his track record for this sort of controversy,isn’t great, so not surprised he was targeted.

  5. And sorry Colin, whenever I meet a journalist (or accountant, or solicitor) I ask why they never fancied doing an honest living.

    • Entitled to your view. I happen to be proud of what I’ve done in my trade and have been pretty damning of abuses. I would have been just as hard on teachers, estate agents, IT people, plumbers, builders, shopkeepers … i.e. individuals from any other career choice who acted dishonourably

  6. The FA are cretins.

    Does anyone remember the Wembley farce when the press gleefully commented on the architectural experts, during construction, sitting in various bits of the stadium with their thedolytes and astronomy charts to make sure there wouldn’t be any shadows on the pitch? That worked…..

    Or the dreadful pitch itself?

    As for Sam, just a greedy prat at the end of the day. There were plenty of stories about his best mate Peter Reid arranging many SAFC transfer deals via a north west agent, and most of the players were crap…. how about the alleged twin Medina and third division Nunez?

    • Another thought. I wonder to what extent the desire to work through just one agent is an attempt to mask a lack of knowledge of world football. We all thought Sam was an expert after his January signings. I wonder.

  7. Like PS I have no interest in the national team largely due to the media circus and the feeding frenzy that surrounds it.

    We have an uncontrolled sports press, as is right, but it has a responsibility to maintain its own ethical boundaries. IMO because there was little likelihood of criminal consequences arising from this sting or a ban for Alladyce it was a step too far.

    Given that the FA has lost the compensation paid to SAFC and has to undertake costly damage limitation/new recruitment it is millions out of pocket.

    It’s about time the FA grew some cojones and banned irresponsible and destabilising newspapers from the football press rooms throughout the country.

    This is about ethics not wrongdoing and the FA should have punished Alladyce but stuck by him —show me a good football manager who is without some sort of baggage.

    • What employer would continue to trust its most senior figure when he has been exposed as having complete contempt for one of its key policies?

      Trust is the most important factor in any employer/employee relationship. Allardyce has effectively demonstrated that he can’t be trusted.

      • Trust and integrity are not the natural bedfellows of most football managers as SAFC supporters well know. They have to be managed not instantly discarded because of some equally dubious and unethical sting considerations.

        Anyway my sympathies are not with Alladyce they are with the FA (which does personally surprise me– but there you go). They have taken a knee jerk reaction–WHY? Because the press tries to manage them and have them dancing to their tune.

        The FA/Press relationship needs realignment so that the FA can act aggressively when they lose a lot of money and the national game is damaged just because some editor sees personal kudos or extra sales.

        Do you think the FA believes the DT has acted with trust and integrity?

      • It depends on whether you think that this particular issue is in the public interest?

        Personally, I think the FA had no alternative. If they had left him in situ, they would have lost all credibility – and they were not blessed with too much of that in the first place.

  8. Must all our heroes turn out to have feet of clay… up to their armpits?
    I saw something on-line just now saying that Allardyce is a disgrace and deserves to be punished severely. So make him stay on as England manager…

  9. One wonders who conducted the due diligence on behalf of the FA? As Pete says Sam had form in these matters.

    Of course there was entrapment. But Sam is a 61 year old man with a lifetime in football. He is not a 16 year old kid. He was also accompanied by at least two ” friends “. Does anyone believe that they didn’t know what was being proposed?

    The Telegraph, IMO, should be congratulated on a superb piece of journalism. They uncovered the MP’s expenses scandal, and did the country a big favour.

    Sam has absolutely no sympathy from me. He had secured what he described as his ” dream job ” and was being handsomely rewarded for what IMO is a part time position. And yet he could not wait to use this position to cash in on even more money, by giving advice on how to undermine the very organisation who appointed him – Breathtakingly stupid, and utterly disloyal.

    I sincerely hope that he has not received a lucrative pay off. But I bet he has.

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