This is a series of articles about the Football Association and some of their activities over the years. So far we have had
- Sweet FA. A history of the idiocy and incompetence in football administration
- The FA scandals part 2: The minister says reform or we close you
- The FA scandals part 3: hiding racism and appointing idiots
- Mr Wenger v The FA – the full 20 year history. And the world of the fake innuendo.
- The crimes of the FA: failing to deal with Fifa and with discrimination
- The failures of the FA: Part 6 – if we don’t communicate it is your fault
So now we come to the case of Mark Sampson the ex England Women’s manager and of Greg Clarke the chair of the FA.
Sampson was sacked from this job after FA investigations into allegations of racist behaviour and remarks he made, initially brought by Eniola Aluko.
During the period after the allegations, which revealed other allegations about unsuitable behaviour by Mr Sampson in relation to female players elsewhere, the FA oversaw two investigations. The second investigation was run by a barrister, Katharine Newton, and this cleared Mark Sampson of any wrongdoing.
The FA nevertheless dismissed him but said that the dismissal was unrelated to the issues investigated by Katharine Newton! (It reminds me of TS Eliot’s famous line about “doing the right deed for the wrong reason.”)
The FA first said, “In respect of investigations into specific allegations made by Eniola Aluko in 2016, the FA stands by the findings of the independent barrister Katharine Newton’s investigation. Sampson has denied all of the accusations put to him and no evidence of wrong-doing was found.”
But when he was sacked shortly after it was because of what the FA described as, “clear evidence of inappropriate and unacceptable behaviour by a coach” during his tenure as the manager of Bristol Academy prior to his appointment as England coach in 2014!
And yet an FA investigation into the allegations that led to his dismissal had concluded in 2014 that, “he did not pose a risk working in the game.” But it also suggested that senior FA members had not read the full report when they appointed him, and indeed did not read the full report until they sacked him. That is clearly gross incompetence by senior people within the FA, and suggests they should all be removed.
Then, the Professional Footballers’ Association told Greg Clarke, chair of the FA, that they thought there had been a whitewash to “close down” the complaint against Mark Sampson and get him off the hook.
Greg Clarke replied (and I understand this is the full extent of his email).
“I’ve no idea why you are sending me this. Perhaps you could enlighten me?”
Now this is a reply from the chair of the FA – a man who had just been sent a six-page document claiming that a cover-up involving a racial allegation had taken place within his own structure. A man in charge of an organisation that purports to stand up against racism.
So here we have the FA, allied closely to Fifa, and funded by the British tax payer, clearly out of its depth in terms of handling a most serious set of complaints about one of its senior staff in terms of racism and inappropriate behaviour.
Let’s have another one…
The media made a lot about the fall of the awful S. Allardyce, who had been constantly cited for his involvement in earlier illegal affairs. But they said far less about a high court judgement involving Sammy Lee, a workmate of the said Allardyce. In fact, most of them are saying what in technical terms we might call “nothing”.
In particular quite a few of the newspapers seemed to place a blackout on the fact that Sammy Lee the deputy England manager had been found guilty of knowingly given false evidence in court – for the second time.
Such is the state of ineptitude of the FA that when it finally was forced to flush out Allardyce it somehow failed to notice that Lee had already been found guilty of the crime of knowingly lying in court. They never did anything about the issue. As far as we know they never even reprimanded Lee. They never pointed out that as deputy manager of England and a representative of English national hopes, telling fibs in an English court was not really on. An everyday event for Fifa officials of course, but not really the English way.
Of course just being associated with the awful Allardyce doesn’t mean one is instantly guilty of anything illegal. Just taking over Bolton from Allardyce in 2007 doesn’t mean that either . But the court in the original case found that Lee lied about Bolton’s role in the poaching of Gavin McCann, something that is totally against football rules.
And so what did the FA do? Nothing. They took no action against anyone even though the enquiry clearly found that Bolton and the football agents SEM backdated a contract for Gavin McCann, and that Lee (and others) then lied about the situation. Lee then appealed, and was found guilty again.
The agent Tony McGill had a representation agreement with the player Gavin McCann and in September 2014 accused the SEM agency (run by Jerome Anderson) of poaching the player. Bolton then paid SEM £300,000 for what the judgement said was “little or nothing.” Lee along with Bolton’s general manager Frank McParland were accused of, and found guilty in court of, lying about two meetings at which they said they had discussed McCann much earlier (as opposed to nabbing him after the Bolton deal with signed up – as appeared to have happened).
In the 2014 judgement the presiding judge refused to accept that the earlier meetings took place staying, “Their accounts do not stack up and are riddled with inconsistencies and different versions over time.”
Later he added in a subsequent hearing about costs, “The events attested to by the Bolton witnesses concerning these meetings simply did not happen. True, I did not use the word ‘dishonesty’ but plainly, if their evidence on the facts on this issue was false, they must have known it to be so.”
Then the judge found that the chairman of Bolton, who was himself an FA Board Member, had fraudulently backdated the contract at the heart of the case so as to back up the claim that SEM were in on the arrangement from the start and thus entitled to the fee Bolton paid them.
Next it was revealed that Bolton then recorded the £300,000 fee paid to the agent SEM for switching the deal as a benefit for McCann.
Tony McGill, the original agent from whom SEM effectively stole the player in order to complete the deal with Bolton and get the money, complained about the poaching to the Football Association in 2007. The FA did nothing so Tony McGill began court proceedings. The court found that there was evidence of poaching, giving false evidence by a number of senior people in football including the Lee character, and the backdating of the contract.
The only thing that went against Tony McGill in the first hearing was the judge’s ruling that he had no written agreement with McCann and so could not prove in court he definitely would have been able to conclude the deal with Bolton and thus make a commission. This ruling was on a technical point of law and in no way reduced the findings of court of poaching and giving false evidence.
McGill then went to the court of appeal and the court of appeal ruled that McGill was the victim of an “unlawful means conspiracy” and should gain damages for losing the chance to conclude signing of McCann to Bolton. We now wait to hear how much the damages will be.
Lord Justice Lloyd Jones and Mr Justice Henderson, in the court of appeal said of the original hearing, “The judge was very critical, however, of much of the evidence given by the defendants and their witnesses, and he concluded that they had fabricated some key events in a misguided attempt to improve their position.”
Although deeply involved in Allardycian schemes over time, when Allardyce left England “by mutual consent” and with a £1,000,000 pay off, (remember even then the FA couldn’t resist using tax payers money to pay off such a rotten fellow) Lee was retained, clearly seen as a fit and proper person to work for the FA. Which I suppose in the light of these revelations he is.
The interesting issue at the end of this is why the media refused to run the story big time. (The Guardian did, but not many others picked it up). It suggests there is an agreement between the FA and much of the media not to publish stories detrimental to the FA. As I say, and I stress, this response “suggests” this is the case. But maybe they just think that FA involvement in such matters isn’t newsworthy as in the case of Sport England withdrawing its funding from the FA because the FA had failed to complete its obligations in terms of building all weather pitches. Or maybe there is another reason…
Had enough of the FA? Here’s some other tales you might enjoy.
- When football journalists fall out, there’s something nasty exposed beneath
- A second Martinelli, selling a “flop”, Arsenal’s huge error: the big Gunnerstories
- Last season we found weird tackle statistics. Now penalties have gone crazy
- Wenger had just as bad a start to a season as Arteta; and found a way out!
- Arsenal transfers: Gnabry return, White a disaster, Martinez a loss?
- Why do journalists get so fixated on scoring in double figures?
- Buying players does not mean success as last season shows…
- All change with PGMO and the refs.. But what change?
- The last five years proves one big thing: nothing is guaranteed.