Majority of agents corrupt, says England manager's aide

September 27, 2006

LONDON, Sept 28 (Reuters) - England manager Steve McClaren's agent Colin Gordon has said the majority of agents are corrupt and those working in England are the worst.

'Are agents corrupt? Not all - but the majority,' the 43-year-old former Birmingham City player was quoted as saying in Thursday's Wolverhampton Express and Star newspaper.

'It's accepted abroad. We pretend we are holier than thou but I've spoken to people over there and the English game is considered the dirty man of Europe'.

'We are the worst - and it shouldn't be accepted. I can't argue with the public seeing us as the scum of the earth,' he added in an interview with the paper published on its website.

The BBC television programme Panorama made accusations last week of corruption and rule-breaking by managers and agents. All the accused have denied any wrongdoing, with several raising the prospect of legal action against the BBC.

However, the programme has prompted the FA to launch a series of inquiries. Under FIFA's current rules, such inquiries and any disciplinary action are entirely down to the FA.

World soccer's governing body is monitoring the situation, though, and said the affair was not good for the game.

Gordon, whose company Key Sports Management also represents Arsenal and England forward Theo Walcott and Watford manager Adrian Boothroyd, says tens of millions of pounds has gone missing from the game.

'Sometimes, the chain of people involved is not just one person but three or four,' he told the Express and Star. 'You will never get the truth out of them.

'And we're not talking about the £50,000 bungs the Panorama programme was alleging. We're not talking old brown paper envelopes stuffed with a few notes. We are talking about millions upon millions. But it's gone now,' he said.

'It's a very, very sophisticated business. It's very cleverly disguised. That programme (Panorama) couldn't prove anything and I'm pretty sure Lord Stevens enquiry will struggle big time to come up with any proof,' Gordon added.

Former London police chief John Stevens has been leading a long-running Premier League inquiry into allegations of illegal payments - 'bungs' - and will deliver the findings on Monday.

'It's time for a poacher to turn gamekeeper,' added Gordon. 'Someone who knows how to regulate it because they know how and what goes on. Some of the people getting involved haven't got a clue. We all know it's there, it's industry gossip.'