Sam Allardyce and England: A sorry mess

Date published: Tuesday 27th September 2016 9:02

“I am extremely honoured to be appointed England manager especially as it is no secret that this is the role I have always wanted. For me, it is absolutely the best job in English football.”

It took Sam Allardyce more than 20 years to land his dream job. It lasted a mere 67 days before turning into a nightmare. The only surprise is that anyone was surprised.

When this site published an article titled ‘A vote for Big Sam should mean Big Sam‘ on July 14, it was written with his style of football, his passion, his character in mind. Allardyce was the perfect representation of old-fashioned Englishness, and that is what the country demanded after another limp failure at Euro 2016.

But a vote for Big Sam meant a vote for Big Sam both on the field and off. The Football Association deserve credit for acting swiftly to bring an end to Allardyce’s reign; it was the correct decision. They deserve censure for not envisaging such a scenario.

“We have concluded – and Sam has agreed – that his behaviour has been inappropriate, and, frankly, not what is expected of an England manager,” explained FA chief executive Martin Glenn. Yet he, we, the FA, none of us can claim not to have been forewarned.

In 2006, Allardyce and his son, Craig, were implicated in an investigation by the BBC’s Panorama. It was alleged that the then-Bolton manager had accepted payments from agents for signing certain players.

In 2013, he was named as an investor in a £450million tax scam. He was also caught up in a £275m tax fraud involving a fake film company.

Even during his short tenure as England manager, he briefly acted as brand ambassador for a betting firm whose managing director had previously lost investors £4m.

And then, of course, his most recent indiscretions: Discussing potential breaches of FA rules; mocking a fellow manager’s speech impediment; negotiating a £400,000 deal to act as an ambassador delivering key-note speeches in the Far East. How could he be so stupid? He could the FA?

They must have been aware of Allardyce’s track record when he was chosen as Roy Hodgson’s successor. And yet, when announcing him as manager, he was described as the ‘unanimous choice’ and ‘highly respected’. The 61-year-old is guilty of naivety, greed and plain old stupidity, but so are his previous employers. They took a huge risk; they must have known it could backfire.

In the aftermath, it was revealed that the FA had even considered keeping Allardyce as manager. “He deserved a fair hearing,” they said in a statement. “He’s been foolish, but he hasn’t embarrassed us.” Is that for them to decide?


Matt Stead

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