The Football Association chairman, Greg Clarke, has promised to learn the lessonsof Sam Allardyce’s 67 days in charge of England and is likely to introduce “a lot more scrutiny” of commercial arrangements for staff. Clarke also revealed the FA is conducting a review of its disciplinary processes that include looking at the rules around agents and transfers.
Clarke, who along with the chief executive Martin Glenn mutually agreed to part company with Allardyce over an embarrassing newspaper sting, said he felt sympathy after they parted ways following a “grown up” discussion.
“I sat down with him yesterday and said: ‘Sam this is so foolish’. He said: ‘Yes, you’re right’. He created a lose-lose scenario where he lost the job of a lifetime and we lost an England manager who may have been pretty successful – he was doing a good job,” he said.
“I did feel sorry for him. I don’t get any pleasure from seeing a human being in pain. And Sam was hurting. He was the cause of his own demise but I don’t get any pleasure from that.”
Clarke, only appointed to the FA role in August, indicated it would clamp down on the rules surrounding commercial arrangements for all staff. “We are going through a lessons learned process. The lessons learned will be very important. Things like: should any business development opportunity, even if it is in the opinion of the person involved non-conflicting, then should it be registered and reported to the FA?” he said.
“If you have a shirt or a watch or a shoe sponsor there is no conflict there but it is a commercial transaction leveraging off your role as a senior official at the FA. I think we’ll move towards a lot more scrutiny of the commercial arrangements.”
Allardyce, speaking for the first time since he lost his job over his comments to undercover reporters, said “entrapment had won” but Clarke said he did not have a problem with the way the story came out.
“My view of these things is that if you think there is actually something going on, go after it. If you hear something and you want to run it down, then run it down,” he said. “Because transparency and a strong media is vital to our society.”
He said he was unable to comment on Allardyce’s payoff, citing confidentiality clauses, but said the terms were reached following a “sensible discussion”.
Clarke reiterated the view of Glenn that it was important for FA staff, including the England manager, to be held to high standards. “Appearances do matter. The image of the FA is important. If we have to dispense discipline and justice, we have to be credible,” he said. “We continually look at whether we’re living up to our own standards. You can’t tell people to do better if you have poor standards yourself. Organisational hypocrisy doesn’t get you far.”
The disciplinary review, set in train by Glenn before Clarke’s appointment, will involve discussions with the Premier League and the Football League as well as Fifa, Uefa, the government and the police over the best way to regulate issues surrounding transfers, money and agents. “It’s not just about policing alleged transactions, it’s about how we dispense justice around on and off the field disciplinary matters.”
He said the review would make proposals for various options that may lead to extra resources and extra powers. However, he said it had to be proportional. “Everyone in football wants to deal with this issue but at the same time we don’t want to be the Stasi.”
Clarke conceded that the issues around transfers were increasingly global in nature but said it was important to focus initially on what it could do in the short term in the England game.
“All the problems of pan-geography legislation are insurmountable in the short to medium term. It’s all long term. Getting the EU to do something or getting Fifa to do something is a long process because you have different statutory controls in different countries,” he said.
“So we’re trying to see what we in England can do better on our own without having to put together a global agreement. With the support of the government, the professional game, the national game, the police, what can we do that could make things better. It needs thought and it needs to be very clear about the problems we’re trying to solve and what processes and powers we need to solve them.”
Questions have been asked over whether the FA should have appointed Allardycegiven the outstanding questions from the Quest review in 2006, which failed to clear three transfers in which he was involved while at Bolton. Allardyce strenuously denied any wrongdoing.
“The one thing I don’t try to do is to second guess decisions made in good faith when I wasn’t here,” Clarke said. “If I had been part of the decision and understood the facts, I would take accountability. I have never run away from accountability. The guys did their best.”
In a joint statement with the Premier League and the EFL, the FA also responded to the allegations in the Telegraph that alleged eight current and former managers had been said to take bungs.
“Any substantive allegations will be investigated with the full force of the rules at our disposal, which are wide-ranging and well-developed. In addition, should we find any evidence of criminality we would inform and seek the support of the appropriate statutory authorities,” it said.
On the appointment of a new England manager, Clarke said he would not rule out waiting until the end of the season for the right candidate. The England Under-21 coach, Gareth Southgate, will take charge of the next four matches.
“We will look at what have we learned from the Sam hiring process and how do we apply that to the next hiring process. The most important thing is we’ve got Gareth focused on the next four games. That buys us time to really give some thought to how we do it this time round,” he said.
“My view is that you need someone who really understands English football. That could be an English person or someone who has worked in England and managed at a senior level. But to parachute someone in who has never managed in this country would be a big ask.”