Catching out Big Sam chatting about how to get around rules that forbid players to be owned by third parties and slating the previous manager and his assistant was only ever going to go one way. To be honest, anyone who knows anything about our national game knew that Sam Allardyce was always a risky choice. I know far too much about libel law to be sucked into why.
Let me paraphrase the BBC line of questioning, with previous FA Chairman Greg Dyke, this morning. Effectively, the reporter -- who also presents Football Focus -- asked why on earth they gave the man the job when he is widely rumoured to not be the cleanest of managers in the game. Surely it was only a matter of time until he risked it all for a big wedge of cash? The answer was that the FA probably knew about all those rumours, but didn't have any proof and so appointed the well-liked manager who then left the organisation crossing its fingers that the man was better behaved and exercised better judgement than rumour suggested. The fact that we are where we are today is the outcome of far too much money "swilling" around the top level of the game, encouraging even very well-paid coaches to risk their reputation for a GBP400,000 extracurricular deal.
I have interviewed Martin Glenn, the FA's chief executive, and found that both of us are grassroots football coaches with a passion for top-level players to set an example. Football has a crazy, unfair execution of the rules whereby a player will be sent off for swearing at a referee at just about any level other than at the top of the game. Glenn went as far as to say he wanted to instill the kind of respect found in rugby in to football. As I recalled these words yesterday, I knew Sam was on his way to Wembley to be sacked. No question about it.
The sting that took him there is coming under scrutiny at, ironically, exactly the same time as the "Fake Sheikh" reporter from The Sun is in the dock for perverting the course of justice over one of his many stings -- this time for the singer Tulisa. He always had a big contract on offer if only an unsuspecting celebrity could buy his friends some drugs for tonight's party. If they fell for it, there they were on camera offering to buy drugs for a party. It's amazing how many greedy celebrities fell for the same trick. I don't really think it would pass the "public interest" scrutiny, which, ultimately, The Telegraph's undercover filming does.
The Telegraph famously exposed MPs' expenses and now it's going for corruption in the national game. I can only applaud their efforts at outing the grubby execs, coaches and officials who are prepared to flout the rules for a payment or facilitate transfers in return for a thank you in a brown envelope. This wasn't a fishing expedition, they explain -- they were going after known suspects. They have exposed the then-England manager for seeking a grubby deal with a hint that he could advise on rule flouting. I can imagine there are a few in the game out there wondering quite how 'legit' that meeting in a hotel room to discuss a new transfer truly was.
The Telegraph has only done its brand image good, in my opinion, and you can say exactly the same about the FA. If you accept that there was no proof that Big Sam was dodgy, then you have to accept the FA had no reason to not offer him the job. But once that proof was there, the FA didn't hang around. It acted decisively to instil the level of respect for the game and the national team its Chief Executive is sworn to uphold. A sad day, but ultimately good for the brand images of the FA and The Telegraph based on their respect and uncovering corruption missions.