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Corruption in football – Matthew McDonagh comments


The allegations made this morning against Tommy Wright, the Barnsley assistant manager, are the latest in what is likely to be a continuous media release of corrupt activities in football. Whatever one’s views on the investigative and reporting practices of the newspapers whose main concern may be to sell more copy, there is little doubt that the spotlight is being thrown again upon what seems to be an endemic problem in the ‘people’s game.’

Supporters of this great game should welcome this spotlight.

It is important that Sam Allardyce’s assertion that, “entrapment has won” should not be seen as anything other than an attempt to ameliorate the desperate situation he was in. All of the allegations that have been made, if proved correct, show at the very least a colossal lack of judgment and at worse, a pernicious greed that is simply corrupt.

It must be hoped that the footballing authorities take the opportunity to salvage a reputation that is being irrevocably tarnished. Internal investigations should lead to full disclosure, draconian penalties and where appropriate the involvement of the police. It must be clear that only such measures can start the process of rehabilitation that other sports such as cycling and athletics are presently going through.

Within the football community there is hope. The wide ranging investigation and prosecution of those who have led the game at FIFA and UEFA can only serve to ensure that those running the game do so honestly and transparently. At the other end of the scale, but of no less significance, the apparent motivation of the FA and the Premiership to stamp out the illicit activities that surround the movement of Academy players between the largest clubs seems to be real. This motivation has been reflected in ‘exit interviews’ involving players, their families, the clubs and the football intermediaries involved in some of the deals. The forensic nature of these interviews conducted by compliance and regulatory lawyers is a welcome step that will, in time, change attitudes towards those involved with young players at the start of their careers. Time will tell if the star players of tomorrow, who we love to cheer and support, will be part of a football business that we can once again be proud of.

Matthew McDonagh is an FA Registered Intermediary and regularly represents players and clubs before the courts and regulatory tribunals.

For an open discussion about how Matthew may help with your legal matters in relation to corruption in sport, contact Business Development Director, Paul Barton or call Chambers directly on +44 (0) 207 353 6381.

Barristers: Matthew McDonagh
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