The big story today is the bribery allegations put forth by the BBC last night. Of course, in their infinite wisdom, they decided to show Benny Hill reruns on BBC America in lieu of the documentary, so I’m relying on the pandemonium promulgated in the papers this morning for information.
Surprise, surprise, the big names being reported are Sam Allardyce and Harry Redknapp. I am stunned. Stunned. While there’s a ton of innuendo and hearsay, there doesn’t seem to be anything concrete here. Sure, Bolton and Portsmouth come away looking less than lilywhite, but there’s nothing here that’s going to lead to any convictions. Worst case scenario, besides the media fury that’ll continue for a spell, is Craig Allardyce (Fat Sam’s son) is going to be a persona non grata in Bolton. Maybe just maybe, Sam will have to step down, but that’ll only improve the quality of soccer played in the EPL.
And then there’s the revelations about Chelsea, and to a lesser extent, Liverpool. It appears the agent for a Boro youth player is shopping his client around quite enthusiastically. Liverpool did nothing wrong, only shown saying they’d sign the player to a professional contract once he turned 17, but Chelsea’s sporting director, Frank Arnesen (who cannot keep him name out of the papers), appears to try to tap-up the player, offering him £150,000 over 3 years to join the academy. And of course, the FA considers this tapping up different from the tapping up of Ashley Cole, and it won’t activate the suspended points deduction from that saga. Pity. Just further proof how deep the FA’s in Chelsea’s pocket (Hi Peter Kenyon!), and how low they’ll go to maintain their status.
Mike Newell has got to be a happy scouser this morning. The fact that the BBC ran with this undercover expose, which appears to be leading to investigations by the FA and the League Managers Association, at least validates his claims and almost makes up for all the stick he took last winter when he suggested what we all knew, that European soccer is as corrupt as we all suspected.
Mmmm the delicious smell of money in the morning…
Update: Both Allardyce and Kevin Bond (former assistant to Redknapp at Pompey and current assistant at Newcastle) are denying all charges. Allardyce says he's got his lawyers on the case and Bond's already threatening to sue the BBC. This is going to be a blast.