After just 67 days, the Sam Allardyce era of the England National Team is no more. Allardyce and the FA mutually agreed to separate nearly 24 hours after The Telegraph revealed an undercover investigation showing Allardyce on video negotiating a £400,000 deal to help “businessmen” entering the soccer industry to circumvent FA rules like third party ownership.
While Allardyce will technically go down in history as the most successful manager of the English National Team at 1-0-0, his decades long dream of managing his native national team ended in just nine and a half weeks and Allardyce has no one to blame but himself.
I will give Allardyce some credit. By all accounts, once the video was out, Allardyce took responsibility of what happened and resigned as England manager. Allardyce probably would’ve been sacked by the FA if he had refused to resign or worse, tried to fight it in court denying it was him and create years of litigation that wouldn’t benefit Allardyce or the FA so this was the best way to go out. Despite that, it doesn’t absolve what Allardyce did.
In addition to making fun of and criticizing former manager Roy Hodgson, Prince Harry and the FA on rebuilding Wembley Stadium, Allardyce’s most incriminating statements involved how to get around third party ownership. Third party ownership is when someone or a business other than a team owns a percentage of the economic rights of a soccer player. A common instance of third party ownership is when someone pays for a talented player to get his start in exchange for a percentage of future transfers. The issue is that for just a little bit of money, these people are essentially owning a piece of that player for the rest of their lives and won’t need to do a thing except cashing millions of dollars. They aren’t an agent, they aren’t doing anything to get them expensive transfers but they’re still getting paid. The practice is controversial and is banned by FIFA.
The fact that Allardyce was so cavalier about the entire thing showed that he didn’t think it was that big of a deal and regardless of if it was illegal or not, to do it anyway. Some have pointed out that The Telegraph secretly recording Allardyce saying these things was shady and unethical in itself but I pose a real scenario. The FIFA scandal came about when Chuck Blazer wore a wire for the U.S. Government to secretly record FIFA officials incriminating themselves and were thus arrested. And I didn’t hear anyone say that that was unethical.
Now, it’s important to make the distinction that Allardyce didn’t do anything illegal in a federal or worldwide law sense like those implicated in the FIFA scandal but the method to get the information was the same. Nothing would’ve happened in either instance if these people weren’t secretly recorded. Also, in a world where much of the news is broken by “anonymous sources” and fake social media accounts leaving us to have to decipher what’s true or not, this was at least definitive proof. The Telegraph has even more information on other managers involved in bribery and similar things so it’s important for maybe England’s government to investigate to see if anything is breaking federal law. That should be the logical next step and to work with The FA (who acted swiftly and responsibly in handling the situation so far) to make sure this doesn’t happen again.
While Sam Allardyce is currently out of the England job, I can’t imagine this would be it for his managerial career. Sam Allardyce wasn’t the first manager to be in hot water over something he shouldn’t have been doing and won’t be the last. If he continues to show humility and realizes what he did was wrong, then he should eventually be given another chance.