'It was not sensible for Palios to dip his pen in the office ink'

How the story broke
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The Independent Football

18 July: The News of the World reports that Sven Goran Eriksson is having an affair with a "curvy lookalike" of Nancy Dell'Olio. The paper does not name Faria Alam or suggest that the new women works at the FA.

19-24 July: Several newspapers approach FA suggesting that the woman concerned is Faria Alam, who works as a secretary to David Davies. The FA strenuously deny the suggestion, issuing separate denials on 19 and 24 July. Papers are also threatened with legal action.

25 July: The News of the World reveals the affair between Eriksson and Alam, and that she had previously had an affair with FA chief executive Mark Palios. The FA retract their earlier denial. In a statement they say: "Earlier in the week the Football Association made statements on behalf of Faria Alam denying that she had a sexual relationship with the England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson. New evidence has been presented to us in the form of e-mails which Ms Alam has sent to friends about the relationship and, having made further inquiries, we can confirm that a relationship did take place."

27 July: FA chairman Geoff Thompson issues a statement: "On Monday, on behalf of the Football Association, I instigated an urgent enquiry into the circumstances which led to the FA issuing legal statements based on misleading information. I have received categorical assurances from chief executive Mark Palios that he did not mislead or attempt to mislead the FA or its officials.

"I am satisfied by the chief executive's reassurances. The enquiry remains ongoing and the findings will be submitted to the FA board at a special meeting on 5 August, 2004."

29 July: The Independent reveals that two FA board members have deep reservations about the way the crisis is being handled. "Mr Thompson is not in a position to condone or exonerate anyone," one said of Thompson's statement. The other questioned whether Thompson was "strong enough to see this through" and claimed that he doubted the chairman was capable of dealing with the fall-out of dispensing with the coach or the chief executive. Both sources expressed their surprise at the wording of the chairman's statement. "It was Mr Thompson's personal statement," the first said. Neither had much sympathy for Palios, despite Thompson's endorsement. "It wasn't exactly sensible for Palios to go dipping his pen in the office ink," one said.

Eriksson retreats to his house near Oslo. The FA cancel his press conference at St James' Park where he is due to discuss England's qualifying campaign. Eriksson issues a statement saying: "I wish to state unequivocally that in keeping with the above policy I have at no time either categorically confirmed or denied any relationship with Ms Faria Alam."

1 August: The News of the World reports that the FA's director of communications Colin Gibson tried to do a deal in which he would give them information on Eriksson's affair with Alam in return for leaving Palios out of things. Palios resigns.

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