Football: FA to appoint 'sleaze buster'

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The Independent Online
THE INVESTIGATION of suspect transfer deals, violent conduct and racist abuse is to come under the control of a new disciplinary officer appointed by the Football Association.

Far-ranging powers will be given to the "sleaze-buster", whose brief will be to eradicate the scandals which have dogged the game over the past few years. Several hundred applicants are already being considered for the post.

One of the most important areas for investigation will be club finances, because of the hundreds of millions of pounds which have poured into the national game since the advent of live televised football.

The FA will be going through the most thorough vetting procedure to get the right person for the task in order to restore confidence that all is well behind the scenes in football.

The moves follow the recommendations of Sir John Smith, the former Metropolitan Police deputy commissioner, in his report into football's finances and reputation in January.

Yesterday's announcement came within hours of Steve Burtenshaw being ordered to pay a total of pounds 10,000 by the FA following the "bungs inquiry".

Burtenshaw, the former Arsenal chief scout now at Queen's Park Rangers, admitted misconduct last week before an FA commission in connection with the transfer of midfielder John Jensen from Brondby to Arsenal in 1992.

He apologised at the hearing for having accepted pounds 35,000 from the agent Rune Hauge two months after Jensen arrived at Highbury in the transfer deal which led to former Arsenal manager George Graham's one-year ban from the game. Burtenshaw is considering an appeal. He believes that the fine of pounds 7,500 is unduly severe.

Sir John urged the FA to become a stronger, more pro-active governing body and to establish a unit to oversee financial matters. "Football must put its own house in order, if for no other reason than to obviate the prospect of public authorities stepping in to regulate football from the outside," he said.

An FA spokesman said: "The successful candidate's task will cover offences as varied as violent conduct, financial irregularities and racist abuse."