Luton Town's manager, Mike Newell, admitted last night that he has no written or taped evidence of illegal financial inducements to present to the Football Association this week and that what he has to say may therefore be of no help.
Newell will visit Soho Square on Wednesday to tell members of the FA's seven-strong Compliance Department of instances in which he has been offered money by agents and other clubs' officials to ensure a transfer goes through. But, admirably keen as he is to expose football's bung culture, he faces the same problem as the three-man team who investigated Brian Clough for alleged malpractice a decade ago - lack of hard evidence.
Newell admitted of the cases he will cite: "It's word of mouth, things that are in my head. So I don't know if it's going to be any use at all. But if you believe in something you've got to say it and I've said it. It's something that's bothered me ever since I've been a manager and if it brings me any problems then there's something seriously wrong in football. I'm not going to back down."
There have been suggestions that he will be cold-shouldered by agents and even some fellow-managers for breaking the game's code of omerta. But Newell said: "I've never tarred everyone with the same brush. They aren't all bad and it's pleasing I've had messages of support and phone calls from all sorts of people. I'm not expecting every manager to support me but I'm disappointed in some of the comments that have been made, including the head of the League Managers' Association [John Barnwell].
"I wasn't happy with that. I'll be very disappointed if I'm hung out to dry over this. It's supporters' money that's going out of the game and that's galling. Tell me why an agent should be paid by a club if he's employed by the player."
There is disagreement among the sport's various governing bodies about whether it is acceptable for an agent to represent both a player and one of the clubs in a transfer deal. The Football Association side-stepped that issue when bringing in new regulations at the start of the year.
But leading agents, who have just formed their own association, have complained about not being given sufficient time to implement the rules. Some have said they will ignore the ban on dealing with officials and clubs, like Newcastle United, who hold shares in their company.
Glenn Hoddle's agent, Dennis Roach, said that Newell's claims were "pathetic". He added: "You can't come out and say something like this. He has got to put enough evidence together before he speaks out. If he hasn't got it he is in trouble. In recent years the level of wages make any talk of bungs - particularly at the top level - pathetic."Reuse content