'Utterly innocent' Big Sam instructs lawyers over 'lies'

September 20, 2006

Sam Allardyce has claimed he is 'utterly innocent' of BBC Panorama's accusations he took illegal payments, as the Football Association announced a wide-ranging investigation into the allegations made by the programme.

Allardyce insisted the claims on the programme that he took bungs were 'lies' and the Bolton manager said he was determined to clear his name.

Meanwhile, FA chief executive Brian Barwick has announced two overlapping investigations into the allegations. Every agent, manager and club named by the programme for alleged wrongdoing will be investigated.

'Undercover: Football's Dirty Secrets' showed three agents claiming that Allardyce and his son Craig, until recently a football agent, were given illegal payments to facilitate player transfers.

Allardyce said in a statement released through his solicitors: 'I am very angry at the lies told about me.

'The individuals who appeared in the programme making accusations against me have already confirmed in writing to my lawyers that they lied to the BBC.

'They lied in the hope of being able to make millions offered by the BBC undercover reporter to buy their sports agency businesses.

'Those individuals never thought their lies would be exposed in the way that they have been and have apologised to me.

'As a result of their greed my good name has been tarnished by deceit and innuendo.

'In addition, as a father of course it is painful to watch your son talk tall and exaggerate his influence for financial gain.

The Bolton manager said he wanted any evidence to be handed over to the FA and Lord Stevens' ongoing inquiry in football transfers.

He added: 'If there is any real evidence - and there won't be as I am utterly innocent of any wrongdoing - I would expect the BBC to give that evidence both to the FA and the inquiry.

'I am determined to clear my name and have asked my lawyers to determine my next steps.'

The FA said they will carry out an 'exhaustive' investigation.

One probe relating to players' agents and connected activities will be carried out by the FA alone, and another investigation by the FA and Premier League jointly.

Barwick said: 'These are serious allegations which have been made by Panorama and we are determined to investigate them fully.

'It is vital for the integrity of the game and for every football supporter that we do this.

'We will work in close co-operation with the Premier League. As with any investigation, we will ensure that our inquiries are exhaustive and thorough.

'If we find evidence of corruption we will act on it. We recognise our responsibility.'

The FA alone will investigate the allegations about illegal payments made by the BBC against the Allardyces, Newcastle assistant manager Kevin Bond and agents Charles Collymore and Peter Harrison.

The joint FA/Premier League probe will cover allegations of illegal approaches involving Chelsea's director of youth football Frank Arnesen, Liverpool, Newcastle and Portsmouth manager Harry Redknapp.

Arnesen and a Liverpool official were filmed by Panorama trying to tempt England youth player Nathan Porritt to leave Middlesbrough, and Newcastle were also alleged to have done so.

Middlesbrough are only expected to make a formal complaint about Porritt's agent Harrison however, meaning disciplinary action is unlikely to be follow against Chelsea, Liverpool or Newcastle.

Redknapp, who was filmed talking to Harrison about Blackburn defender Andy Todd, is also likely to be in the clear.

The joint investigation will also look into the transfers of Hidetoshi Nakata, Tal Ben Haim and Ali Al-Habsi to Bolton as these fall within the timeframe of the inquiry being carried out by Lord Stevens for the Premier League.

The FA said in a statement: 'The FA take any allegations of corruption in the game extremely seriously and will actively investigate the claims made by the programme.

'Discussions have already taken place with the Premier League as to how these joint investigations will be managed.

'The FA will also speak to all other parties named in the programme.

'Based on the evidence obtained, The FA will then determine what action should be taken.'

The FA will also talk to Bolton chairman Phil Gartside, an FA board member, about his appearance in the programme when was shown complaining in the press about an 'illegal approach' to then captain Jay-Jay Okocha when eight days earlier he had been negotiating to sell Okocha with agent Teni Yerima.

The FA will also refer any evidence about French-licensed agent Yerima to FIFA and the French FA.