Allardyce to sue BBC over bungs claim

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The Independent Football

Sam Allardyce raised the stakes in the saga over the BBC Panorama investigation yesterday when he made clear his intention to sue the broadcaster on the day that the BBC met the Football Association and the Premier League to discuss the delicate process of handing over evidence.

The next few months will be fraught with legal complications for the BBC as - it would appear - it has to fight on one front the libel case brought by Allardyce as well as co-operate with the investigation into the allegations of corruption it brought against various others. No evidence was passed on yesterday in a meeting described by the BBC as "positive and constructive".

In the meantime, Allardyce said that he had been told by his lawyers that he had a "very strong case in relation to the Panorama programme". Nevertheless, the decision to sue, with the costs involved, will not be taken lightly by Bolton's manager. "I have instructed them to prepare my case against the BBC, whom I am planning to sue over the false and highly damaging allegations which they broadcast," Allardyce said.

"Obviously, as everyone will understand, I need to discuss this matter with my chairman Phil Gartside as well as my wife, before I take any final decision, since both have an interest in this."

While suing the BBC will be a serious undertaking, it is unlikely that Allardyce will make a move until the initial findings of the Lord Stevens inquiry into corruption in football are made known on 2 October. The evidence from the BBC will go first to the FA, which will then decide what of it falls under the remit of the Premier League.

At the meeting yesterday were the FA's Jonathan Hall, director of the governance division; Mike Foster, the Premier League's general secretary; Bill Bush, the Premier League's director of public policy; and Paul Woolwich,Panorama's executive producer. Woolwich made an appearance in the documentary as the fictional potential football investor "Mr Silverman".

Newcastle United said yesterday that they anticipated an announcement on the future of their assistant manager, Kevin Bond, who had been given time off after featuring in the programme. While Bond denies all wrongdoing and has said that he will sue the BBC, it is understood that he will leave Newcastle.

Arsène Wenger, who has been critical of the BBC's approach to investigating football, said yesterday that responsibility for cleaning up the game's image rested with the authorities rather than the media. "The responsibility is down to sports bodies," he said. "[The] media [have] not proven they are completely innocent in what they do because they go after audience and money, not necessarily always after justice."

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