FA silent after Newell tells all about 'bungs'

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The Independent Online

Luton's "Deep Throat" may have been singing like a canary yesterday but not a peep was heard outside the Football Association's glass-walled offices in Soho Square. Mike Newell, the Luton Town manager, kept the appointment he made with the governing body following his outspoken comments on the game's "bung culture" but both he and the FA then kept their counsel.

In a statement which was bland even by FA standards, it was revealed Newell had met Brian Barwick, the chief executive, then FA officials. These were members of the FA's Compliance Unit whose names are not revealed as a matter of policy. Newell spent two hours with the latter before leaving via the back door. The FA said they would "reflect" on the "private conversation". Luton will issue a statement today after they have spoken to Newell.

Last week the club's manager claimed he had been offered cash by agents and club officials as an incentive to buy players, adding that he would be amazed if the former Arsenal boss George Graham was the only manager to have accepted a bung in the last 11 years. Graham was banned for a year after the FA ruled he had accepted bungs totalling £425,000 from Norwegian agent Rune Hauge.

If Newell has been able to provide concrete evidence of corruption within the game or, as the FA delicately put it, "financial irregularities", the Compliance Unit will launch an investigation. This will involve summoning or, more probably, arranging to visit those he has implicated. If all he has to offer is personal testimony and hearsay - and these cases are notoriously difficult to substantiate - progress will have to be more circumspect. The latter scenario is more likely. Last week he admitted: "It's word of mouth. It's in my head, so I don't know if it will be any use."

Given that, the inevitable concern for those who want a thorough examination of the game's seamy underbelly is that the "investigation" will be quietly dropped like so many others have been once it becomes clear that hard evidence is elusive. Certainly, Newell, to date, remains a lone voice. A source within the FA confirmed that there had been no rush of fellow witnesses beating a path to Soho Square.

Meanwhile, the wheeling and dealing of the transfer window carried on apace.

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