Big Sam relieved after Stevens bung probe

December 24, 2006

Bolton boss Sam Allardyce has spoken of his relief after the publication of Lord Stevens' report into football corruption effectively cleared him of wrongdoing.

Stevens' nine-month inquiry into allegations of bung-taking in the game exonerated the Premier League clubs this week.

Allardyce was drawn into the affair when he was featured in an undercover investigation by the BBC's Panorama programme and was asked by Stevens' investigating Quest team for information.

Allardyce told the News of the World: 'I am delighted to finally have my name cleared after nine months of rumours, innuendo and what I began to feel was a witch-hunt.

'It was a massive distraction in my life. The perception out there was I had done something wrong and that was the hardest thing to live with.

'Of course, it affected me but I have tried to hide that, not let people know how much it was hurting.

'They are satisfied that I have done nothing wrong. That was clearly my first concern, now we have to look at the rest of Lord Stevens' recommendations to make the game more transparent, more open. That is crucial.'

Allardyce admits, however, that it was naive to work with his son Craig, a former agent who was also featured in the Panorama programme.

One of Stevens' recommendations is that fathers and sons should not be able to work together on transfer dealings.

He added: 'With the benefit of hindsight it is probably right - it will remove doubt.

'I can understand how it looked, even though it could not be further from the truth.'