It seems not a month goes by where football regulatory authorities aren’t linked to some sort of corruption scandal. This week new England Manager, Sam Allardyce, was reported to have met with undercover journalists disguised as businessmen allegedly to advise them on how to circumnavigate player ownership rules in exchange for £400,000.00. The fee appears to have been dressed up as a fee to be a keynote speaker.
Whilst the full content of the discussion is not currently known it also believed that Mr Allardyce insulted his predecessor, Roy Hodgson’s, speech impediment and made insulting comments about another FA coach and criticised the decision to rebuild Wembley Stadium. He also said any deal would have to be approved by his bosses.
As England Manager, Mr Allardyce is employed by the English Football Association (FA), who have been staunch critics of FIFA’s corrupt nature. To have such a high profile employee embroiled in a corruption scandal is not only damaging to their reputation but also a real glass house scenario that could also leave the FA liable.
Under the Bribery Act 2010 any business that is incorporated or trades in the UK is liable for prosecution if it is found to have broken the law. The Act covers bribery committed by an organisation, or on its behalf, anywhere in the world.
It is one of the world’s toughest anti-corruption laws and bribery offences now carry a penalty of up to 10 years’ in prison. The punishment for business and corporations is equally serious with unlimited fines a potential consequence.
Bribery can include many common business practices, such as providing clients with gifts, hospitality and entertainment on a quid pro quo basis. The Act provides for corporate and personal criminal liability by introducing four new criminal offences; bribing another, being bribed, bribing a foreign public official, and failure by a commercial organisation to prevent bribery.
The other issue is Mr Allardyce’s future. Even if not found guilty of bribery this is not the first time Allardyce has been linked to a corruption scandal. In 2006 he was linked to a scandal involving many managers accepting bribes from talent agents for buying certain players. Furthermore his comments about former colleagues and the national stadium could be misconduct offences on their own. This leaves him and his employer in an uncomfortable position.
The FA prides itself on integrity and honesty and these comments do not keep to those standards. This incident took place before Mr Allardyce had even taken his first training session as England manager and shows a lack of judgment. However it does not want to lose a manager so soon into his contract, especially given the job is a difficult one to recruit for. Our previous post about the Top Gear Steakgate scandal identifies that any disciplinary sanction for a high profile staff member should be consistent with that of a normal employee.
At the very least he has brought the FA into disrepute. To moonlight as an adviser to advise on rules set by your employer does suggest gross misconduct and a breach of trust and confidence. Mr Allardyce was working for the gamekeeper, the FA, whilst seeking to moonlight for the poachers. Despite Mr Allardyce’s nickname (Big Sam) this is one occasion where he can’t have his cake and expect to eat it.
Expect more to follow.