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Stein slams English FA over ‘Big Sam’ gaff




The selection of Sam Allardyce as coach of the English football team – since sacked – was controversial from the get-go. There were many experts who felt he was the wrong man for the job but in fairness, you’re going to get that point of view from some people, no matter who you employ. 

Sadly, the sceptics proved correct, and after just 67 days in his job, “Big Sam” was kicked out.

Allardyce left after an undercover sting comprising some journalists captured him negotiating lucrative speaking engagements in the Far East and advising supposed Far East investors how to get around FA rules regarding third-party ownership.

Allardyce left his job by mutual consent after holding talks with the FA following The Telegraph’s undercover operation that captured him, his agent Mark Curtis and football agent Scott McGarvey, meeting undercover reporters who were posing as Far East businessmen looking to invest in English football.

Jack Sport English FA

Association of Football Agents founder Mel Stein, pictured with football great Paul Gascoigne in his younger days, has slammed the Football Association over its lack of information about sacked English football manager Sam Allardyce.  

Former England captain Alan Shearer has since labelled English football the “laughing stock of the world”.

Shearer told BBC Radio 5 Live: “I didn’t think England could stoop any lower from what happened in the summer in the Euros (losing) to Iceland. And now, here we are. We’re a laughing stock of world football.

“We’ve got a problem. It’s greed, isn’t it? We have to be able to accept people laughing at us.”

Now another critic has come to the fore, namely Association of Football Agents founder Mel Stein.

Stein, who is Jewish, said the FA ought to have asked him or one of his colleagues if they wanted to know about Allardyce. In 2006, Allardyce denied allegations of illegal payments made in a BBC Panorama programme, and came into the England job with a clean record as a manager.

There is no suggestion Allardyce had a history of breaching rules, but Stein said football agents could have offered more background information about his character. “I’m not suggesting in any shape, form or size that we should be involved in appointing an England manager,” he said.

“But if anybody had spoken to any of us about (the FA’s) last appointment (Allardyce), we would’ve said: ‘You know what, he’s not Mother Teresa’.

“I’m not saying he’s guilty of anything,” Stein stressed. “But clearly, if you were looking for somebody who was going to not cause you any problem, probably Allardyce was not your man.

“He may well have been the best manager for the job – and that’s a decision to make.”

Stein then suggested the FA had buried its head in the sand over Allardyce in the same way that the BBC did with Jimmy Savile. “Just like Jimmy Savile at the BBC, when people came out of the woodwork afterwards saying: ‘Well, everybody knew about Jimmy Savile’,” he added.

While his point is clear, Stein must have known that this would be a highly inflammatory remark, one which saw his comments splashed across the back of one tabloid on Thursday last week.

FA chief executive Martin Glenn last week defended the appointment of Allardyce. The FA, he said, knew Allardyce “was a man of the world” but that “his leadership credentials were excellent. We knew there had been a Panorama inquiry a few years ago,” said Glenn. “But he was a guy who had a senior position on the League Managers’ Association.

“We referenced him widely. He’s Sam, he’s loud, he’s brash but he is in the middle of the fairway in terms of behaviour.”

Glenn added that Allardyce is now expected to face FA charges and a fine or ban from the game.

Stein, meanwhile, is stepping down as chairman of AFA. AFA has said that “the global move to deregulation has not worked” and has “allowed the system to be more open to manipulation and abuse” amid the fallout from Allardyce’s resignation. In a statement, it also stressed the need for tighter regulation of its industry, featuring input from Uefa and Fifa (the European and world football controlling bodies respectively).

The board of the body that represents more than 300 agents, gathered in London and expressed a willingness to shed greater light on financial transactions in football.

The organisation gathered ostensibly to welcome a new chairman, as former chief executive of the International Rugby Board Mike Miller, who will replace Stein.

On the other side of the coin, Napoli owner Aurelio De Laurentiis spoke out against the “cancer” of soccer agents and questioned why clubs should have to pay them in transfer deals for players.

The flamboyant Italian told the Leaders Sports Business Conference at Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge ground this week that he also only signed players if he had complete control of their image rights and some deals had fallen through as a result.

“You know, that’s a cancer of our domain,” the movie producer said of agents, in a discussion with West Ham United’s vice chairman Karren Brady.

“Not every agent. But I don’t understand why you need an agent. In Hollywood, the actor pays (the agent) himself. I don’t pay the agent. In soccer, why must I pay?”

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