> Allardyce fights to save England job, as bookies turn against manager <
SAM ALLARDYCE is set for crisis talks with his Football Association employers yesterday 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 (RM16.13m)-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 (RM2.15m).
Senior FA figures were said to be stunned by the revelations and Allardyce was seen driving away from his home in Bolton early yesterday 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.”
Although they want to hear their manager’s side of the story, The Times reported FA chief executive Martin 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.
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.
He also referred to Hodgson as “Woy”, mimicking his speech impediment, and said the FA had “stupidly spent £870 million” 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.”
However, Allardyce is odds-on with bookmakers to lose his job. Bookmaker William Hill cut the odds on Allardyce being sacked to 1-3 following a number of bets yesterday.
“We have seen hundreds of bets this morning of up to £1,000 (RM5.38m) all for Allardyce to no longer be manager of England by the time they next take to the field,” William Hill spokesman Joe Crilly said.
“You would have thought some details have been held back for later this week and we now think he’s as good as gone.”
Allardyce’s comments were the centre of debate in local and social media yesterday, with some condemning him for seeking to line his pockets so soon after his appointment and saying he should go.
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.
In 1999 Glenn Hoddle was sacked as England manager after comments he made about disabled people in a newspaper interview despite him apologising for a “serious error of judgement”. – AFP/ Reuters