Monday 18 December 2017

English FA asked why tweets on Warnock not probed

Neil Warnock currently manages Cardiff City Photo: PA
Neil Warnock currently manages Cardiff City Photo: PA

English Football Association chairman Greg Clarke was asked to explain why allegations made against Neil Warnock were not followed up during an MPs' hearing into football governance.

Allegations that Warnock was "crooked" and was "ruining the game" were made by Crystal Palace midfielder Jason Puncheon in 2014 on Twitter and quickly deleted.

They were repeated in Westminster yesterday by Damian Collins, the chairman-elect of the UK Culture, Media and Sport Committee.

Collins, the Conservative MP for Folkstone and Hythe, was questioning English FA chairman Clarke about the governing body's attempts to investigate possible wrongdoing in the game and cited Puncheon's outburst as an example of an allegation that was not pursued.

In fact, Puncheon was fined £15,000 by the FA for bringing the game into disrepute and warned about his conduct.

Using parliamentary privilege, which gives MPs and witnesses protection for libel laws, Collins said: "The tweets have been deleted but for the benefit of the committee they are still available online, although they're not on his Twitter account.

"(Puncheon) said: 'What I won't accept is an opinion from a man who's crooked and ruining the game.

"'Neil Warnock, the man who signs players, gives them extra wages and appearance bonuses to make sure that they pay him to get into the team or on the bench.

"'The fact he could even talk about training is shocking, he was never there."'

Puncheon was reacting to a comment Warnock, who has managed 15 different clubs in a 37-year career, made as a pundit when the Palace player missed a penalty in a 2-0 defeat by Spurs.

Clarke also admitted Sam Allardyce received a pay-off when he lost the England job but denied the English Football Association failed to scrutinise the manager's background before hiring him.

Allardyce and the English FA "mutually terminated" their contract after only 67 days when the 61-year-old was caught making indiscreet remarks on camera by Daily Telegraph reporters investigating allegations of corruption in football.

Clarke was repeatedly challenged by MPs asking him what due diligence was done before Allardyce was hired in July.

"I wasn't there because I have only been in this post for five weeks but I am assured by board members that they did do due diligence on Mr Allardyce," said Clarke, who frequently reminded the MPs during the two-hour session that his time at the FA overlapped with Allardyce's by just two weeks.

"Significant inquiries were made, we spoke to his former clubs and the League Managers Association - no issues were raised."

The MPs did not like the idea of Allardyce receiving a "financial arrangement" - reported to be £1million - and it was that subject that provided the session's most lively exchanges.

Clarke, citing his experience of company law, said that the legal advice was to reach a settlement.

"Any right-thinking person would rather spend money on grassroots facilities but we will always obey the law," he added.

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