Leading agent urges FA to 'flush' spectre of corruption from game

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The Independent Football

One of England's leading football agents has urged the Football Association to "police" his profession effectively and "flush out" any corruption.

The industry has come under the spotlight again following reports that BBC Panorama investigators "duped" agents and other top officials into discussing the payment of illegal bungs.

Phil Smith, the chief operating officer of the First Artist agency, insists the FA is not clamping down hard enough to reduce the chances of impropriety.

Smith told BBC Five Live yesterday: "It is a perennial problem in our industry and it just needs to be flushed out. Ever since I have been in the industry the spectre of it has loomed over everyone's head.

"We want to get it dealt with. We put together an agents' association to try and work with the clubs, not just here but worldwide, and try to make sure these possibilities are minimised.

"As well as we get on with the FA, it has never policed the agency situation to any satisfaction for as long as they have had it under their jurisdiction and it really does have to be dealt with."

Smith said he had also sought to work more closely with the Professional Footballers' Association before the PFA launched its own player management agency two years ago.

The PFA service effectively fulfils the role of an agent and Smith admitted: "We wanted the PFA to help deal with it and be an independent body but unfortunately they decided they want to compete with us."

The Luton Town manager Mike Newell yesterday called on England's top clubs to take the lead in the fight against corruption in football. Newell shocked the game in January when he revealed he had been offered bungs by agents and his comments led to the beginning of the former Metropolitan Police Commissioner Lord John Stevens' inquiry into murky dealings within the sport.

The results of Lord Stevens' investigation will be revealed at a meeting of Premiership chairmen on 2 October. Newell said: "Cleaning up the game will depend on the powerful clubs. If they do not take a stand, nothing will happen. I will be amazed if Lord Stevens does not find anything. I hope names will be named, and I can see no reason why they would not be.

"This problem is more widespread than people think it is. When I made my comments people were very sceptical, but they need to get their heads out of the sand. The inquiry might scare a few people, and put a few in order. That is what I hope will happen."

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