Sam Allardyce is no longer the manager of the English National Soccer Team following an undercover investigation by the Daily Telegraph, a London-based newspaper. Undercover journalists from the Daily Telegraph posed as businessmen and secretly videotaped Allardyce, as he told them how to get around rules enforced by the English Football Association that prohibit the third-party ownership of players, among a wide variety of other controversial comments.
The Daily Mail in England is reporting that Allardyce will resign after just 67 days in charge of England’s national team as a result of the undercover investigation. There are conflicting reports that he has been fired. However, either way, it appears Allardyce is no longer the England manager.
The Daily Telegraph reporters had been investigating Allardyce for 10 months, long before he took over as manager of the England National Team in July. While speaking with the undercover reporters, Allardyce used his standing as the England manager, several weeks after getting the job, to negotiate a deal to advise parties in Singapore and Hong Kong on how to circumvent rules that prohibit player ownership in exchange for £400,000, which is equivalent to roughly $520,000.
A report from the Times, another British newspaper, indicates that English soccer chairman Greg Clarke and chief executive Martin Glenn held an emergency meeting Tuesday morning to discuss the situation. The two reportedly summoned Allardyce to meet with them in London.
“I got a call related to the issue and I want the facts and I will look into it — it is not appropriate to pre-judge the issue. With things like this you have to take a deep breath and have all the facts and hear everything from everyone,” Clarke told the Times. “Then you can make a judgement about what to do and that’s what we will do. Natural justice requires us to get the bottom of these issues before we make any decision.”
The Daily Mail reports that Allardyce met with Clarke and Glenn on Tuesday, accompanied by advisor Mark Curtis. It is unclear whether Allardyce was given the option to resign following that meeting or whether he has been fired.
As explained by ESPNFC, third-party ownership of soccer players refers to investors “purchasing” a player early in his career for the purpose of receiving a portion of that player’s transfer fee later in his career. Essentially, the investor is betting on a player becoming a star and eventually being purchased by another club for tens of millions of dollars, giving the investor a portion of the selling price and a substantial return on their investment.
The more times a player is sold to a new club, the more opportunity there is for the investor to receive a payout. England banned third-party ownership in 2008, although it remains a common practice in South America. Soccer’s governing body, FIFA, also banned it in 2015.
In the undercover video taken by The Daily Telegraph‘s investigators, Allardyce said he could show the disguised investigators how to get around the rules that prohibit third-party ownership, telling them it was “not a problem.” He also called the laws against it “ridiculous.”
Allardyce has only been in charge of the England National Team for one game, a 1-0 win for England over Slovakia on September 4 in a qualifying match for the 2018 World Cup. Allardyce took over the England job from Roy Hodgson in July. England were perpetual disappointments under Hodgson, taking just one point from three matches during the group stage of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil and then getting upset by Iceland in the second round of the 2016 European Championships.
Allardyce seemed like a good bet for the England job after managing several English clubs, most recently Sunderland last season after four years with West Ham United. However, it appears that Big Sam’s time with England will be brief, but at the same time memorable for its sudden and disastrous conclusion.
In addition to discussing ways to get around rules about third-party ownership, the undercover video also recorded Allardyce criticizing and poking fun at Hodgson and sharing his take on what went wrong for England at the 2016 Euros.
Gareth Southgate, who currently manages England’s Under 21 national team, is expected to take over for Allardyce, at least temporarily. England hosts Malta on October 8 and then plays away to Slovenia on October 11 in a pair of qualifying matches for the 2018 World Cup.
Whether or not Southgate could be Allardyce’s permanent replacement as the England manager remains to be seen. He has been the manager of the England Under 21 national team since 2013, but the English Football Association may be looking for someone with more experience or a manager with more name recognition in world soccer.
England already had a rather lengthy search before deciding on Allardyce to be its next manager, and the England Football Association may have to turn around and do the same thing all over again. That is on top of the corruption issues brought to light by The Daily Telegraph‘s investigation of Allardyce. The videotape of Allardyce could potentially open a Pandora’s Box of issues for soccer in England. It already appears to have left England without Allardyce as its manager.
[Featured Image by Christopher Lee/Getty Images]