English football has become further embroiled in accusations of corruption after eight current and former Premier League managers were named as taking bribes during player transfers.
The Daily Telegraph revealed that a host of English top flight bosses, alongside one Premier League assistant manager and two managers from the Championship, had allegedly been paid ‘bungs’ by football agents during negotiations for their clients.
The news comes after Sam Allardyce was removed from his position as England manager over discussions concerning an illegal £400,000 payment to the former Bolton and Sunderland gaffer, as well as other misguided comments Allardyce made during the meeting.
Football agents, such as Pino Pagliara, who was banned from all football related activity for five years in 2005, as well as Dax Price and Scott McGarvey, were filmed by undercover reporters, with the trio all claiming that unauthorised payments being made to managers was rife within the English game.
The Football Association now faces its biggest calamity in years as misconduct and dishonesty engulfs the supposed ‘home of football’.
Pagliara met the Telegraph’s reporters – who posed as Far East investors for the investigation – in Manchester to discuss footballing matters, and nonchalantly disclosed the names of a number of Premier League managers who were open to receiving illicit payments during player transfers.
The Italian claimed that one particular boss used the code phrase ‘a little coffee’ to imply that a backhanded payment was required to help get the deal over the line.
Pagliara said: “We know him very, very well. We do a transfer, [X] has winked at us and said ‘Yeah, I want the player. Is there a little coffee for me, Pino?’ Yeah, course there is.”
Pagliara went on to state that football managers made sure to “cover their tracks” to ward off any suspicion from football authorities, and divulged that he “relied on the greed of managers” to carry on in his role.
He added: “Here (England) it’s even worse… I thought the Italians were corrupt.”
Pagliara also revealed that there was one manager who, despite previously being known for taking lots of bungs, reformed his character and refused to entertain the notion of illegal fees.
He said: “There’s another who used to need the money but he’s had so much now that all of a sudden he’s whiter than white”. He said: “I felt like saying ‘[X], you’ve had more backhanders than Wimbledon, what are you talking about?’ “You know he’s a wheeler and dealer don’t you?… he gambles 20 grand a day, he needs to make money… he’ll be earning three or four million, he still wants 50 grand in cash.”
Price, meanwhile, told the undercover reporters that not every manager was corrupt, saying that one boss had moaned that “people are getting back-handers left, right and centre”.
However, he added: “It’s almost like corruption is just staring you in the face, everyone’s… that is the business.
“These new TV rights – £7.2 billion… the money’s going to be ridiculous… there’s no league in the world like the English league.”
Premier League, The FA and English Football League Executive Meeting.
And McGarvey, a former player who now works as an agent, stated that even assistant managers weren’t immune to the crisis that has engulfed football since Monday night.
He disclosed the name of one current no. 2, revealing that the person in question received £5,000 “in readies” for one particular deal.
He added: “It was as though I’d given him a million pounds.”
Despite being caught live on camera, though, both Pagliara and McGarvey have refuted the claims made by the Telegraph.
On Tuesday Pagliara said: “I have never paid bungs to anyone. I have never paid any money to any of these managers.”
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for McGarvey stated: “There is little doubt that the lure of the project and his role in it has resulted in our client providing colourful information to enhance and secure his role as was being offered to him”.