Football agent lied to Telegraph investigators

Matt Stead

Agent Pino Pagliara has said that he lied to undercover reporters about bribery in English football.

Pagliara is a central figure in The Daily Telegraph’s 10-month probe into corruption in English football, after he was secretly filmed making allegations of illicit payments to current and former Premier League managers.

The Italian has, however, now sought to distance himself from the accusations, saying he made up the ‘bung’ claims in order to try to secure a contract with the fake investors.

“Of course I did, because I knew that if they were speaking to other agents then other agents would lie,” he said in an interview with the BBC.

“It’s a question of lying more to make sure that they would renew my contract.

“I had to make sure my argument was compelling. At the end of the day, I got a bit creative.”

Pagliara is an unlicensed agent who was banned from football for five years in 2005 after being found guilty of match-fixing.

The Daily Telegraph reported that Pagliara had told them that one former top-flight manager had ”more backhanders than Wimbledon”.

Pagliara has denied that he has ever made an illicit payment to a manager and suggested the newspaper had targeted him because of his past.

“I have never paid a manager a bung,” he said.

“I have to also admit to one thing, which is they (The Daily Telegraph reporters) wanted me to tell them that my relationships with managers was such that a manager would take money from me.

“I felt because I was only given access to them two or three days a week, and I knew that they had no exclusivity with me and were talking to other agents, that if I didn’t impress them then they would find somebody that would.

“Therefore I actually allowed them to believe that the managers that I would be speaking with would not drop the money on the floor if I gave it to them.”

Sam Allardyce has been the highest-profile casualty of the newspaper’s operation after he agreed to step down as England manager on Tuesday.

Allardyce’s position was made untenable, after just 67 days in the role, after he was filmed negotiating lucrative speaking engagements in the Far East as well as making indiscreet and damaging remarks about a range of issues including third-party player ownership.

Barnsley sacked assistant head coach Tommy Wright on Thursday after the newspaper alleged he took a £5,000 payment from undercover reporters posing as football agents. Wright denies wrongdoing.

QPR boss Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and Southampton assistant manager Eric Black both face investigations from their respective clubs following separate allegations they both deny.

Pagliara said he had not yet been contacted by the police or Football Association, but was willing to co-operate with any enquiries.

“If they need me I’m here,” he said.

“I am certainly not running away. The FA have not been in touch or even the police.”