England fail to stamp out further embarrassment

Southampton assistant manager Eric Black (above) is the latest figure in English football to be accused of corruption. The newspaper sting has already forced Sam Allardyce out as England manager.
Southampton assistant manager Eric Black (above) is the latest figure in English football to be accused of corruption. The newspaper sting has already forced Sam Allardyce out as England manager.

LONDON • The Football Association (FA) and Sam Allardyce suffered further embarrassment on Thursday when all the England national team players received postcards from their now ex-manager under the headline "The journey has begun".

The message to the players who defeated Slovakia in their opening World Cup qualifier read: "Well done! Our journey has begun with our first win together. Looking forward to seeing you soon. Sam Allardyce."

The cards were sent out on Tuesday, the day Allardyce lost his job.

The FA had already thrown out 4,000 T-shirts that English football's ruling body was planning to give away to fans at next Saturday's World Cup qualifier against Malta because they had a similar Allardyce quote.

Allardyce, who was ousted as England manager following controversial comments he made to undercover reporters about third-party ownership of players, has gone on holiday to "reflect" on his misfortune.

Arsene Wenger, Gareth Southgate, Steve Bruce, Alan Pardew, Sean Dyche and Eddie Howe are among the candidates touted as his possible replacement.

Yesterday, Wenger, who celebrated 20 years at Arsenal last week, admitted that he could be tempted by the prospect of managing England "one day".

"One day, if I'm free, why not?" said the 66-year-old Frenchman, whose contract with the London club expires at the end of this season, when asked about the possibility ahead of his side's trip to Burnley tomorrow.

"But at the moment my focus is on my job (at Arsenal). My priority is to do well here."

Dyche, the Burnley manager, said he is still too inexperienced to be considered.

"You'd want to have a go at the England job, but my CV is not deep enough, I don't feel, to take that on now," said the 45-year-old.

Premier League club Southampton said on Thursday they will investigate allegations that Eric Black, their assistant manager, gave advice to undercover reporters about making illegal payments to a member of staff at another club.

Black was filmed by The Daily Telegraph saying that "a couple of grand" might persuade an acquaintance at another club to pass on information about players to representatives of a bogus company who said that they wanted to represent footballers.

"We have contacted the FA and the Premier League, and intend to work closely with both bodies on this matter when the facts become clear," the club said.

A spokesman for Black said that any suggestion that he was complicit in discussions about illegal payments was "false and that the reference to paying 'a couple of grand' related to a freelance scout he suggested the company should approach".

The revelation came two hours after Southampton had been held to a goal-less draw by Hapoel Be'er Sheva in a Europa League tie in Israel.

The result left the Saints top of Group K with four points after two games.

THE GUARDIAN, THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 01, 2016, with the headline 'England fail to stamp out further embarrassment'. Print Edition | Subscribe