Bolton chairman offers support to Allardyce

Click to follow
The Independent Football

The Bolton chairman, Phil Gartside, has pledged his full support to Sam Allardyce after breaking his silence over the "bung" allegations made against the club's manager.

The BBC Panorama programme "Undercover: Football's Dirty Secrets" claimed that Allardyce and his son, Craig, until recently a football agent, were given illegal payments to facilitate player transfers. The programme - in which Gartside also featured - was aired while Lord Stevens was conducting his own inquiry, backed by the Premier League, into the way clubs conducted transfers. The detailed findings have yet to be published.

Allardyce has vehemently denied any wrongdoing and the Bolton manager retains Gartside's full backing. "I have not doubted Sam," Gartside said. "I know what the truth is. We have done our own investigation - there is the Stevens investigation. It has been very thorough. There is no evidence we have done anything wrong.

"When you see the tactics used, with hidden cameras, that is going beyond what you should do. That's what I object to. A person's reputation gets tarnished by something that is not true. It hurts him and I feel for him. Sam has handled it extremely well.

"The only worry is that people will read things into a situation which are actually not true."

Gartside is also furious at the way he was portrayed on the programme. "With the benefit of seeing transcripts, when people are cutting and pasting [editing] an interview, it becomes a bit naughty," he said. "I am very angry and remain angry.

"No amount of apology or compensation can repay the anguish and the torment we have had to go through both personally and professionally.

"You need the support of family, friends and colleagues. I would like to thank everyone who has given us that support."

Gartside added: "It has been a very difficult period because we feel you cannot defend yourself in certain incidences. There has been some creative reporting and it has been difficult to balance the pressure when you have a job to do. But we are coming out of it now with a more positive attitude."

Lord Stevens is set to reveal the findings of his bungs inquiry on or soon after 11 December - but only the Premier League's top brass will be given the full story.

The former Metropolitan Police commissioner had been expected to present his findings early next week but has been given at least another seven days. He will now present his final report to the Premier League board - comprising just three men, the chairman Sir Dave Richards, the chief executive, Richard Scudamore, and the general secretary, Mike Foster - rather than to all 20 club chairmen.

The trio will then decide whether disciplinary proceedings can be brought against any clubs, managers or agents - and only then will the identities of those alleged to have breached transfer rules be made public. They may also pass the allegations on to the Football Association for possible disciplinary action from the governing body instead.

Stevens met all 20 chairmen in October and delivered his preliminary findings - that he had whittled down his investigations into 362 transfers to just 39 deals, involving eight clubs.

The eight-month inquiry will have cost at least £600,000. A Premier League spokesman said: "The investigation is ongoing, and we wait to see Lord Stevens' findings within the time-frame identified."