Premier League managers 'took transfer bribes'
An agent tells the Daily Telegraph that eight current or recent Premier League managers have taken backhanders
Having already claimed one scalp in (now ex) England manager Sam Allardyce, the Daily Telegraph has turned its attention to alleged malpractice in the Premier League.
According to the paper, "eight current and former Premier League managers stand accused of receiving 'bungs' for player transfers".
Describing the revelations as "evidence of corruption in the English game", the Telegraph's claim will send tremors through club administrators and make grim reading for those at the Football Association who, in dismissing Allardyce, said their "priority is to protect the wider interests of the game and maintain the highest standards of conduct in football".
"The newspaper has agreed to pass transcripts to the Football Association, English football's governing body," reports the BBC, "as well as handing information to the police."
The Telegraph says its undercover reporters filmed football agents "boasting about how many managers they had paid" in an under-the-table culture – and promisises that in the coming days it will disclose the identity of an assistant manager at a leading club "who was filmed accepting a £5,000 cash payment from undercover reporters posing as representatives of a Far Eastern firm that wanted to invest in players".
In addition to the eight current and recent Premier League managers named by agents, two Championship managers are also alleged to have accepted bribes.
Much of the information came from the mouth of Pino Pagliara, an unlicensed Italian agent, who was banned from football for five years for match-fixing in 2005.
When the Telegraph's undercover reporters met Pagliara at an Italian restaurant, "the names of 'bent' football managers tripped off his tongue as easily as the prosecco bubbles popped in his wine glass", the paper says.
During further meetings with Pagliara and two other agents, they said they had "personally paid off" five managers.Of one manager, Pagliara said: "We know him very, very well. We do a transfer to [named club], [X] has winked at us and said yeah, I want the player. Is there a little coffee for me, Pino?"
Explaining that 'coffee' is a euphemism for backhander, the Telegraph said such payments are not made directly to the manager. Instead, the manager will make a "consultancy agreement with somebody who he trusts enough to let them do that and then he gets it back".
Another agent who unwittingly talked to the Telegraph was Scott McGarvey, a former Manchester United player. The paper says he "rattled off the names of four managers who were willing to take 'bungs'," and that "many of the names were the same as the ones mentioned by Mr Pagliara".
McGarvey also admitted that he personally paid two managers, including one still involved in the sport, who liked to have the money deposited in a Swiss bank account.
Contacted on Tuesday night by the Telegraph, Pagliara backed away from his claims. "I have never paid bungs to anyone," he told the paper. "I have never paid any money to any of these managers."
Asked why he said he had, Pagliara said he "fabricated" the stories in the hope of earning a lucrative contract with the fictitious firm.
The fresh allegations of corruption at the top end of the sport has "lifted the lid on a huge scandal", says The Sun.