Sam Allardyce's reign as England manager is over. The man tasked with restoring some pride to the Three Lions after their disastrous European Championship campaign left his post by mutual agreement with the Football Association after one match and 67 days in charge.
No other outcome had seemed likely once the Daily Telegraph went public on Tuesday morning with its undercover investigation into football malpractice. Allardyce, 61, was caught on camera negotiating a deal worth £400,000 to represent a Far East firm, and also explaining how to circumvent third party transfer rules.
Summoned to FA headquarters to explain himself, Allardyce left in the early evening and a short while later the FA released a statement in which it said he was no longer manager of the England team after his "inappropriate" conduct.
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"He accepts he made a significant error of judgement and has apologised," it continued. "This is not a decision that was taken lightly but the FA's priority is to protect the wider interests of the game and maintain the highest standards of conduct in football. The manager of the England men's senior team is a position which must demonstrate strong leadership and show respect for the integrity of the game at all times."
Having spent the day explaining himself to FA chairman Greg Clarke and chief executive Martin Glenn, Allardyce issued a statement of his own last night, a "sincere and wholehearted apology for my actions".
Saying it had been "a great honour" to manage his country for 67 days and one match (a 1-0 win against Slovakia), he said was "deeply disappointed" to relinquish the role.
"Although it was made clear during the recorded conversations that any proposed arrangements would need the FA's full approval, I recognise I made some comments which have caused embarrassment," he said. "As part of the meeting, I was asked to clarify what I said and the context in which the conversations took place. I have co-operated fully in this regard. I also regret my comments with regard to other individuals."
There was little sympathy for Allardyce from pundits and the press. Former England captain Alan Shearer told the BBC that England was the "laughing stock of world football" and said he was "staggered at the misjudgement from a guy who said this was his dream job".
Similar sentiments came from Ray Parlour, who said in a column for The Sun that Allardyce was an embarrassment. The former Arsenal and England midfielder also said Steve Bruce "would be the obvious choice" for the next England manager. "He wouldn't let anybody down and has great experience," Parlour said.
Among other names being mentioned are Crystal Palace manager Alan Pardew, Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe and England Under-21 coach Gareth Southgate.
Southgate has been appointed interim manager and will take charge of England in next month's World Cup qualifiers against Malta and Slovenia, as well as the games against Scotland and Spain in November.
The Guardian says that effectively gives the FA until March to "identify and appoint a long-term successor or, if the former Middlesbrough manager impresses and can be persuaded to stay on, promote him on a permanent basis".
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England manager Sam Allardyce investigated by FA after newspaper sting
England manager Sam Allardyce is being investigated by the Football Association after he revealed to undercover journalists that he knew how to "get round" FA rules on player transfers.
The hugely embarrassing revelations come just a couple of months after Allardyce was appointed to the role following England's disastrous European Championships campaign.
The 61-year-old Allardyce is caught on camera mocking the speech impediment of his predecessor, Roy Hodgson, as well as criticising his assistant, Gary Neville, and making disparaging comments about the England players.
However it is the allegations, laid out in the Daily Telegraph, that Allardyce "used his position as England manager to negotiate a £400,000 deal," that are likely to prove the most damaging.
The Telegraph reported its findings to the FA on Monday morning, and they are now studying transcripts of the conversations between the paper's undercover reporters and Allardyce over the course of two meetings lasting four hours in total. "We have asked The Daily Telegraph to provide us with the full facts in relation to this matter," the FA said in a terse statement on Monday evening. Hours before going to press, the Telegraph approached Allardyce for a comment but he failed to respond to their request for an interview.
The paper says that its reporters posed as businessmen representing a Far East firm and, over a meal in a Manchester restaurant, negotiated a deal with Allardyce worth £400,000 to the England manager. In return for the money Allardyce agreed to travel to Singapore and Hong Kong as an ambassador. He was also helpful in explaining to the 'businessmen' how they could circumvent FA rules – described by Allardyce as "ridiculous" – that were put in place in 2008 in order to prohibit third parties "owning" players.
This was possible, explained Allardyce, because he knew of some football agents who were "doing it all the time". He added: "You can still get around it. I mean obviously the big money's here."
During the undercover sting, Allardyce also poked fun at Hodgson, dubbing him "Woy" and saying he "hasn't got the personality" for public speaking. He also described Hodgson's assistant during his time in charge of England, Gary Neville, as "the wrong influence" and someone who should have been ordered to "sit down and shut up".
Allardyce also accused the England players of being unable to "cope" with major tournaments, a description few fans would question given the Three Lions' dismal record over the last fifty years. Allardyce was appointed manager in July and it was hoped he would restore some steel and some pride to the squad after the humiliation of losing to Iceland in the Euros. But the Telegraph's revelations are deeply embarrassing to both the FA and Allardyce, who is paid £3 million a year plus bonuses by the FA.
As the Telegraph says, he now "faces questions about his judgement just weeks after his first and so far only match in charge of the national side". The sting is part of a ten-month investigation by the paper into corruption in English football after they received "information that specific managers, officials and agents were giving or receiving cash payments to secure player transfers".
The paper is promising there will be more revelations in the coming days but for the moment it is the future of the England manager that will dominate discussions at FA Headquarters. They expect Allardyce to act as their ambassador and not sell himself to Far East businessmen, particularly "as it raises the possibility that he is 'employed' by a company whose footballer clients could benefit from preferential treatment".
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