FOOTBALL authorities will brace themselves for an escalation in the game’s corruption crisis today after the latest series of allegations led to Championship club Barnsley suspending assistant head coach Tommy Wright with immediate effect.
Following footage which led to the departure of England chief Sam Allardyce, and a report claiming 10 as-yet unnamed managers have been involved in illicit payments, the Daily Telegraph unleashed new footage detailing alleged impropriety on Wednesday night.
Wright - who denies any wrongdoing - is alleged to have taken a £5,000 ‘bung’ to help a group of Far East investors place players at his club.
QPR chief and former Leeds striker Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and Leeds owner Massimo Cellino were also implicated in separate controversies.
Hasselbaink is alleged to have requested a fee of £55,000 to work for a fake Far East firm seeking to sell players to the club, while footage appears to show Cellino explaining to representatives of a fictitious Far East firm that they can circumvent FA and FIFA rules by becoming club shareholders in order to receive a portion of players’ sell-on fees.
FA and FIFA rules ban third-party ownership of players, and third parties receiving any percentage of a player’s transfer fees.
Barnsley acted swiftly to suspend Wright pending an internal investigation, after he was filmed apparently telling reporters posing as members of a prospective Far East investment firm: “I can just recommend players to you... that I’ve gone and seen, and then you’ll have to do your spicy dealing, whatever you do.”
At a later meeting, when an envelope was offered that the Telegraph said contained bank notes, Wright said: “Cheers, just put it there” - indicating a seat alongside him.
QPR and Leeds issued robust defences of Hasselbaink and Cellino, respectively.
QPR said the 44-year-old would be subjected to a “thorough internal investigation” but added: “We have every confidence in our manager and the robust systems and processes the club has in place.”
Video footage shows Hasselbaink seemingly asking his suitors to “come up with a nice figure” for a role, which the newspaper says he is told would involve a number of trips to meet with the firm in Singapore.
Leeds called the allegations concerning Cellino a “non-story”. The Italian appears to suggest to members of a fictitious Far East firm that they become shareholders in the club in order to receive portions of players’ transfer fees.
But the club responded: “This is plainly not a suggestion as to how to circumvent the rules but rather an accurate, albeit concise, explanation of how to operate within the confines of the rules.”
The League Managers Association said earlier on Wednesday that it was “extremely concerned” by the allegations involving the 10 Premier League and Championship managers.
A statement from the trade union for managers from the English Football League and Premier League read: “The LMA is extremely concerned by the current situation of allegations made against a number of managers.
“We take the allegations very seriously as they are obviously damaging to the game.
“We know the FA has requested full disclosure from the Telegraph of all the relevant information it has and we are working with the FA in dealing with the allegations, following the correct processes and procedures.”
The Telegraph has reported that it contacted all of the managers named by the agents and five of them responded with denials of taking bungs - the rest have not replied, the newspaper said.