Bungs inquiry given power to call agents and players

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The Independent Football

Having reviewed the shortlist of potential inquiry heads, and discussed the terms of reference, the monthly chairmen's meeting authorised the League's executive to proceed.

Despite the positive revelation that the inquiry, using nominated powers devolved by the Football Association, will be able to summon agents as well as managers, players and officials to appear before it, it will be a surprise if anyone is found guilty. More significant, in the long term, may be the recommendations produced as to how to prevent future bungs.

One possibility is that clubs will be compelled to release financial details of all transfer dealings. Another is that the proliferation of family members working for agents, primarily sons of managers and club directors, will be discouraged. This would be a natural development of the recent ban on managers holding shares in agent's companies. Richard Scudamore, the chief executive of the Premier League, said he hoped to reveal within a few weeks the name of the "eminent figure" who will head up the inquiry.

Sir John Stevens, the former Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, now heading his own investigations company, is the front-runner. The scope, budget, timescale and constitution of the inquiry will be confirmed then but Scudamore indicated he expected it to report by the end of 2006.

The inquiry will examine transfers since January 2004. Should it identify any apparent irregularities the case(s) would then be examined by either the Premier League, the FA, or, with overseas-based agents, managers, players or club officials, Fifa. The purpose of the inquiry, said Scudamore, is to establish whether there have been any irregularities, and to issue recommendations to improve business practices.

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