Football: The Sweeper

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The constipated law of the bung

NOT ONLY did nearly five years of investigation and deliberation into the bungs scandal not amount to a hill of beans when the Football Association finally produced its verdicts this week - which were either deferred or adjourned anyway - but there was no mention that the recommendations of Sir John Smith's report into football's finances would be put into effect forthwith to prevent such a thing happening again.

One of the key proposals of Sir John's report, which he delivered eight months ago, was that a compliance and monitoring unit be set up to keep a watch on transfer dealings and the like and although the FA has apparently advertised for a compliance officer, no one has yet been appointed. Besides which it was Sir John's belief that the job required more than one person to be administered effectively. It is also essential that that person or persons carry some clout.

"The FA has to give itself the ability to acquire documents from its members which could assist in any enquiry and also to require that people answer questions," he said. "To date the FA doesn't have that power which means, in my view, that it can not effectively investigate anything."

Obtaining that power from the FA Council (89 strong after the death of two members) whose self-interests are famously and jealously protected, is another matter, of course.

Another of the main proposals of Sir John, who was former deputy commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, was that a code of ethics be arrived at by the FA in conjunction with the clubs - so that it was seen as "our code rather than their code" - that would cover every aspect of a club's function.

"I'm starting to believe that the answer to the wrong-doings in football is an acceptance by clubs that high standards need to be maintained and enforced by them in a way that is public or semi-public," he said. "There is no doubt that football has a bad reputation and that something has to be done quickly and fairly radically. As I said in my report, if football can't deliver the n other people - the government - may be encouraged to step in and do the job itself."

THE PERSON whom Paul Ince most wanted to have a one-to-one with last Saturday week, prior to his sending off in the European Championship qualifier in Sweden was neither Sir Frank Whittle nor Doctor Martin Luther King, which is a pity because the latter might have reminded him of the virtues of non-violence. No, the person he most wanted to talk to was his Liverpool team-mate, Phil Babb - well, it takes all sorts. But he found getting in touch with the living even harder than the dead and eventually left behind a somewhat colourfully worded recorded message.

The trouble was he had rung the wrong number and left his message on the phone of David Frame, the general manager of Sheffield Steeler's ice hockey team. Fortunately, such language is nothing new to the Steeler's man, who remarked: "Judging by his choice of words, he didn't seem to be in the best of moods before the big game."

ANDY GORAM, Scotland's retired international goalkeeper, has been sitting by the phone all summer waiting for it to ring. And when it eventually did of course, two calls came along together. Typical. Had the call from Ayr manager Gordon Dalziel come minutes earlier, Goram would have found himself facing his former club Rangers last week - despite vowing that he would never do so - in a Scottish League Cup tie at Somerset Park. But Goram had just agreed an eight week stint with Steve Bruce to cover Simon Tracey at Sheffield United, so he had to decline. Goram, who mysteriously walked out on Scotland this summer during their United States tour just prior to the World Cup finals, said: "When I left Rangers I said I would never play against them, but the Rangers of today is not the club I knew. So I would have jumped at the chance without a moment's hesitation - and worried about the reaction from the fans afterwards."

WHEN ASTON Villa manager John Gregory boasted that the recovering alcoholic Paul Merson was joining a vice-free environment at Villa Park he had obviously forgotten all about a certain blue movie in which the Middlesbrough man's predecessor at the club had starred. Should Villa, like Boro, fall short of Merson's exacting moral standards, he had better be careful that he leaves the club on better terms than he left the Riverside. The porn video featuring Dwight Yorke and Mark Bosnich which, according to the Sun newspaper had been found in a dustbin at Yorke's home was in fact recovered from a rubbish dump by a Villa fan who intended to keep it for home consumption only - until, that is, Yorke upset him with his defection to Manchester United. Whereupon it was swiftly sold to the highest bidder which by happy coincidence turned out to be one of United's new stable companions.

As You Were

IN MARCH 1976, Terry Venables (main picture, left) was the coach at Crystal Palace and Malcolm Allison (main picture, right) his manager. Three months later, when Allison left the club to take over at Galatasaray in Turkey, Venables took the helm at Palace. By the end of his first season in charge he had led the club to promotion from the Third Division, and in 1979, Palace took the Second Division title against Burnley in front of a crowd of 51,482 at Selhurst Park. Venables left in 1980 and after some of the most high-profile jobs in football, returned this year, (above left, inset) to take up the challenge once again of reviving the Eagles' fortunes. Allison's travels led him to appointments in places as diverse as Portugal, the United States, Kuwait and Bristol. Nowadays (above right, inset) he is semi- retired, lives in the North-east and makes occasional appearances as a pundit on local radio.

The price is right

ARSENAL, WELL gutted at Lens' late equaliser on Wednesday, can exploit Manchester United's dismal defence with a 2-1 win at Highbury tomorrow. Barcelona's makeshift back four were punished by Ryan Giggs, David Beckham and Dwight Yorke on Wednesday, but for Schemeichel's bodyguards there can be - and was - little defence. Dennis Bergkamp and Nicolas Anelka (the best bet for first goal scorer) should have a field day. Milan, 3-0 winners against Bologna last week, can win 2-0 at Salernitana, on the wrong end of a 3-1 thumping at Roma last week. Oliver Bierhoff is best bet for first goalscorer. Finally, grocers will be highly delighted to learn The price is right has a bumper three-day shelf life this week and Blackburn may be held 1-1 by Chelsea on Monday. Gianfranco Zola can score the first goal.



(pounds 1 ten-timer with Ladbrokes): Coventry to draw with Newcastle (9-4); Derby to beat Leicester (evens); Leeds to draw with Aston Villa (9-4); Liverpool to beat Charlton (2-5); Middlesbrough to draw with Everton (9- 4); West Ham to win at Nottingham Forest (11-8); Southampton to draw with Tottenham (12-5); Wimbledon to draw with Sheffield Wednesday (9-4); Arsenal to beat Manchester United (6-4); Blackburn to draw with Chelsea (9-4).

(Return: pounds 20,495.44).


(Game expected to end 2-2)

Wimbledon v Sheff Wednesday

(pounds 1 at 14-1, generally available).


Arsenal v Manchester United

Score: 2-1 (pounds 1 at 9-1, William Hill & Stanley).

First goal: Anelka (pounds 1 at 7-1, Coral & Ladbrokes).


Salernitana v Milan

Score: 0-2 (pounds 1 at 8-1, Tote).

First goal: Bierhoff (pounds 1 at 9-2, Ladbrokes).


Blackburn v Chelsea

Score: 1-1 (pounds 1 at 11-2, generally).

First goal: Zola (pounds 1 at 6-1, generally).

ORIGINAL BANK: pounds 100.

CURRENT KITTY: ER... pounds 71.03.

TOTAL SHREWDLY INVESTED TODAY: pounds 8.72 (including 72p tax paid on).


Name: Karren Brady.

Position: Managing director of Birmingham City Football Club.

Form: Ex-Saatchi and Saatchi; moved to LBC Radio selling air time; ex- marketing director for Sport Newspapers.

Big Ideas: Selling, selling and more selling. True Blue in more ways than one, Brady is a workaholic, with Tory heroes. Has taken the Blues from virtual liquidation to rude health in five years, and dividends on the pitch are starting to show. Now stock market listed, the club could also be ripe for a takeover.


Found on the Web: An imagined programme schedule for Manchester United's new television station:

9am: BLUE PETER What is Schmeichel actually saying when he is shouting at defenders? (Subtitles).

11.30am: MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE Sheringham on filling Cantona's shoes.

1.30pm: NEIGHBOURS A look at cross-town rivals City (Comedy). 3.30pm: ANIMAL HOSPITAL Rolf Harris discovers how the surgeons helped Roy Keane back to full fitness.

8.30pm: THE VANISHING MAN Jaap Stam talks us through his Charity Shield performance.

11pm: RED NOSE DAY SPECIAL More laughs with Peter Schmeichel.


richard digance

west ham united

Comedian and singer

"I hate referees, they all obviously had dreadful upbringings and take it out on the players at West Ham. I think Saturdays watching West Ham would be more fruitful if all referees were sent to the Falklands and the visiting sides didn't turn up. That way we could go for a draw and I'd be happy. Supporting West Ham is stupid when they play as they did against Northampton the other night. Beating Liverpool on Saturday and then being had by the Cobblers (pardon the pun) on Tuesday - such is the helter skelter life of a West Ham boy, born and bred."

Seen But Not Bought

EVERTONIANS ARE clearly gluttons for punishment, but why anyone would want to buy a "Paint-it-yourself Goodison Park Model Stadium" is completely beyond comprehension. Retailing at pounds 19.95, this extraordinary edifice is just 5p cheaper than another remarkably similar-looking item, the Mini Stadium, which comes already painted. Neither item can compare, of course, with the Goodison Stadium, which is slightly bigger than the other two, but otherwise identical. It costs pounds 50.

Who Ate All The pies?

TOTTENHAM FANS have had to digest some fairly awful football recently, but their appetite for bagels has not diminished. Available for the past eight years, the salmon, tuna or chicken delicacies (pounds 1 to pounds 1.90) are still "very popular" according to their supplier, Barry Abraham. The bagels' success is due to them being "a healthy alternative to fast food," according to Abraham. Quite why Spurs fans put up with such bland tosh on the pitch is less well known.

Research: Kate Horsley

They're Not all Dennis Bergkamp

Unsung foreign

legionnaires No 6

EARL JEAN: A 26-year old striker from St Lucia (he captains his national side), Jean is now a Plymouth favourite. He moved to Argyle from Rotherham, where his six goals in the 1996-7 season made him the club's highest scorer. Before Rotherham, he had played one match for Ipswich, and before that played in Portugal for Felgueiras, Leca, Academica Coimbra and Oliveirense. A pacy opportunist, Jean (above right) may not be very big, but is deceptively good in the air, and worth many times the free fee he cost. Greatness with the Pilgrims will surely come, but it will take much to eclipse Jean's greatest moment to date - playing with Dwight Yorke in a Caribbean Select XI against Jamaica in New York in a pre-World Cup friendly this summer.