Sam Allardyce is set for crisis talks with the Football Association on Tuesday as the England manager fights to save his job after being caught in a newspaper sting.
Allardyce gave advice on how to circumnavigate transfer rules, criticised the FA’s decision to rebuild Wembley and mocked his England predecessor Roy Hodgson while being secretly filmed by Daily Telegraph reporters posing as Far East businessmen.
Allardyce, appointed England manager in July on a £3 million-a-year contract, agreed to travel to Singapore and Hong Kong as an ambassador for their fictitious firm for a fee of £400,000 ($519,000, 461,000 euros).
Senior FA figures were said to be stunned by the revelations and the former Sunderland and West Ham manager was seen driving away from his home in Bolton, north-west England, early on Tuesday morning amid reports he will speak to his employers as they prepare to launch an immediate probe into the scandal.
The FA has asked the Telegraph to provide them with “the full facts in relation to this matter”, leaving Allardyce in danger of being sacked just one game into his reign.
“I got a call related to the issue and I want the facts in the morning and I will look into it -- it is not appropriate to pre-judge the issue,” FA chairman Greg Clarke told the Times.
“With things like this you have to take a deep breath and have all the facts and hear everything from everyone.
“Then you can make a judgement about what to do and that’s what we will do. Natural justice requires us to get to the bottom of these issues before we make any decision.”
FA chief executive Martin Glenn, who gave the green light to Allardyce’s appointment after Hodgson quit following England’s humiliating Euro 2016 last 16 defeat against minnows Iceland, is said to have spoken to Allardyce on Monday evening.
He is reportedly due to talk to him again on Tuesday and will then decide with Clarke whether Allardyce, whose only England match to date produced a 1-0 win in Slovakia, will hold onto his job just 67 days after he was hired.
Allardyce’s problems began when he agreed to meet the undercover Telegraph reporters, who asked if it would be a problem for their fictitious agency to get involved in third-party ownership through funding football transfers, which is banned under Fifa rules.
“It’s not a problem. We got (Enner) Valencia in. He was third-party owned when we bought him from Mexico,” Allardyce replied.
The Telegraph reported Allardyce said he knew of certain agents who were “doing it all the time” and added: “You can still get around it. I mean obviously the big money’s here.”
He referred to Hodgson as “Woy” -- mimicking his speech impediment.
He also said the FA had “stupidly spent 870 million pounds” rebuilding Wembley and complained that Prince William, the FA president, had not attended last week’s Euro 2020 launch event in London.
Allardyce’s controversial comments also included criticising Hodgson’s approach at Euro 2016, saying he was “too indecisive” and “hasn’t got the personality for public speaking”.
He said Hodgson’s assistant manager Gary Neville “was the wrong influence for him. F***ing tell Gary to sit down and shut up, so you can do what you want”.
Allardyce poured scorn on England’s failure at the tournament by saying their players have a “psychological barrier” and “can’t cope”.
His actions have put the FA in a difficult position given that England’s next game is a World Cup qualifier against Malta at Wembley on October 8, with the squad set to be named this Sunday.
As pressure mounts on Allardyce, Robert Barrington, Executive Director of Transparency International UK, said of the Telegraph sting and their wider investigation into football corruption: “These are extremely serious allegations.
“We would expect the FA -- and any clubs implicated -- to launch an immediate and independent investigation in response to any substantiated allegations to help keep the game clean in this country.
“During such investigations, organisations typically suspend employees against whom there is credible evidence, and cooperate fully with the authorities if there has been wrongdoing.”
It is not the first time Allardyce, nicknamed ‘Big Sam’, has been linked with off-field scandals during his long managerial career.
In 2006, he was named in a BBC Panorama programme which alleged that he had taken illegal payments or “bungs” as part of transfer deals.
Allardyce denied the claims and an independent investigation by the former Metropolitan Police commissioner Lord Stevens found no evidence of irregular payments.