English game to get corruption allegations report

September 30, 2006

LONDON, Sept 30 (Reuters) - A Premier League inquiry into accusations of corruption by agents will deliver its initial findings on Monday, just two weeks after fresh allegations that secret payments are rife in the English game.

The inquiry, led by former London police chief John Stevens, was set up in January after high-profile claims that illicit payments to managers, known as 'bungs', were a common feature of transfer deals.

Former England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson had told a Sunday newspaper that three unnamed Premier League clubs were involved in such payments. Luton Town's Mike Newell and then Queens Park Rangers coach Ian Holloway said they had been offered inducements.

Launching the inquiry, Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore said: 'What I promise is that we will get to the bottom of this one way or another, to see if there's no smoke without fire.'

Stevens and his team have been sifting through several hundred transfers from January 2004 to January 2006 and not all the deals are fully clear of suspicion.

At Monday's meeting in a London hotel, Stevens is expected to announce that a number of transfers, put variously at 50 and 100 by newspaper reports, will require further investigation.

He is also expected to make recommendations about how the current system could be improved.

Listening to him will be the 20 club chairmen, Premier League board members and representatives of clubs who were in the top-flight during the period covered by the inquiry.

Rapt attention will be guaranteed after the furore which has followed fresh allegations by the BBC's Panorama programme that bungs and rule-breaking are widespread in English soccer.

Bolton Wanderers manager Sam Allardyce has instructed his lawyers to take 'appropriate action' after strongly denying allegations that he had received payments from agents.

Kevin Bond has been sacked as assistant manager by Newcastle United after a secret recording by programme makers during his previous spell at Portsmouth.

Bond, who was taped saying he would consider discussing payments by a proposed but entirely fictious agency, has denied any wrongdoing and has said he will sue the BBC.

Soccer agent Peter Harrison, a central figure in the programme, has also denied any wrongdoing and said he too will take legal proceedings against the BBC over the programme.

Speculation over illicit payments to managers has been around for decades and the Premier League has already held one inquiry into the issue back in 1993.

Colin Gordon, the agent of current England manager Steve McClaren, told a newspaper on Thursday he believed the majority of agents working in England to be corrupt. He said the English game was considered abroad as 'the dirty man of Europe.'

However, the only 'bung' case to have led to censure was former Arsenal manager George Graham, who was banned for a year in 1995 after accepting 425,000 pounds ($800,200) from an agent involving two transfers.