After the fall of Big Sam, his trusted no.2 the next to fall?

After the fall of Big Sam, his trusted no.2 the next to fall?

By Full Contact News and Views


Recent revelations prompted by the Daily Telegraph’s investigation in to corruption in football has already led to the FA’s new chairman Greg Clarke being hauled before a Parliamentary Committee.

Facing the suggestion that the FA has failed to properly regulate and govern their game,  allowing a culture of corruption and unlawful practice to become common place,  Clarke assured the government that the FA was vigilant, wanted to act but needed ‘hard evidence’.

Hard evidence is of course by its very nature hard to come by – those guilty of sharp practice are not that likely to leave it lying around in the corridors of Wembley Stadium  –  but last week saw a rather helpful judgment arrive from one of the highest courts in the land, the esteemed Court of Appeal.

The case of McGill v The Sports and Entertainment Media Group and others [2016] EWCA Civ 1063  is the culmination of a nine year wrangle between the football agent Tony McGill and various protagonists all linked to Bolton Wanderers Football Club.  It is only right to point out that most of the ‘Bolton defendants’  no longer work at the club  –  Sammy Lee is now the assistant manager of England no less,  Frank McParland works for Glasgow Rangers and Phil Gartside has sadly passed.  The other key defendants included the football agency SEM and their owner and key agent (and the now retired) Jerome Anderson and their agent Jeffrey Weston.

The assistance provided by this judgment can not be under-estimated. Without fear of defamation proceedings one can talk openly about findings that were made by the Court – firstly the High Court, and then upheld by the Court of Appeal.   We learn that Phil Gartside, the then CEO of Bolton,  in cahoots with SEM,  backdated a contract to as to support their case.  Such an act amounts to a criminal offence.  We learn that Sammy Lee was said to have given ‘false evidence’  and that his evidence was ‘riddled with inconsistencies’.   The ‘unreliable’  McParland and Lee were held to have known that their evidence must have been dishonest and all of the defendants generally were said to have ‘fabricated key events in a misguided attempt to improve their position’.

The legal dispute arose because McGill was on the brink of deal for his then client Grant McCann to sign for Bolton, only to find that the agency SEM – working in ‘conspiracy’ with Bolton Wanderers –  hijacked the deal unlawfully, earning themselves £300,000 in the process for doing ‘little or nothing’.  That the then CEO of Bolton Wanderers and his colleagues preferred to pay an agency £300,000 for doing ‘little or nothing’  than pay the actual agent who had done all of the work a far lesser fee  (for McGill was perfectly happy to complete the transaction for a fraction of the price) might baffle most fans,  or indeed any rationally minded individual.  Sadly, it is an all too common tale – but one that we rarely have the privilege to disclose through a lack of evidential substantiation.  You might ask why the executives representing Bolton would so willingly waste unnecessary club funds?   One is sure they had their reasons……….

Now we wait to see what the FA do.  Mr Clarke says he needs hard evidence and thankfully on this occasion the Court of Appeal have given it to him on a plate.  He was not slow to dispense with the services of Sam Allardyce (for offences that in the legal sense were far more trivial) and now we wait and see how he deals with the national side’s assistant manager, he who has been held to be such an invalid historian.  The offence of knowingly giving dishonest evidence to a court is of course known as perjury, and with Lee and many of the other defendants said to have committed such a crime, one would expect that the FA will act decisively and without compassion.

If it be the case that our beautiful game is so polluted by corruption, and I for one take the view that it is, then a good place to start would be to expel from the game the proven rogues.  One by one.

Over to you Mr Clarke.


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Full Contact News and Views includes articles contributed by Associates and professional contacts within the Full Contact team and includes opinion on sports law, PR and media, football agency and more.

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