The spreading corruption and bribery scandal in English football has claimed another scalp.
Championship club Barnsley announced earlier today that assistant manager Tommy Wright had been let go. This comes after The Telegraph published video of the Scotsman agreeing to steer his players toward a third-party ownership scheme in exchange for a bribe.
If this all sounds familiar, that’s because it’s part of the same undercover investigation that ultimately brought an end to Sam Allardyce’s reign as England manager after 67 days.
Like Allardyce, Wright met with a group of men who he believed represented an East Asian investment firm looking to make money in English football. During the meeting, he told these “investors” (who were, in fact, Telegraph reporters) that he would facilitate deals between Barnsley players and the consortium as well as push for the club to sign the group’s players at other clubs. In return, he reportedly received £5,000 in cash.
As soon as the allegations were made public, Barnsley suspended Wright and launched an internal investigation. But while there the investigation is nowhere near complete, the club are apparently confident enough in the veracity of the paper’s claims and terminated Wright’s contract.
Per the club’s official statement :
”A meeting between the club and Mr. Wright was held this morning attended by club chief executive Linton Brown. After considering Mr. Wright’s response to allegations in today’s Daily Telegraph about breaching FA rules over player transfers, Mr. Wright was dismissed. The club was unaware of such matters nor was it involved in any wrongdoing. The club will continue to fully investigate the issues at hand and will cooperate with the regulatory authorities as necessary.”
Wright has denied any wrongdoing.
The Telegraph’s investigation also published evidence linking QPR manager Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink to the ongoing scandal. Hasselbaink was caught on camera agreeing to do business with the firm, offering consulting work at £55,000 per appearance and working to sign players owned by the group. QPR has launched an internal investigation, although they have not yet suspended Hasselbaink and have said he will be in charge for this weekend’s match against Fulham. Hasselbaink has also denied the allegations.
Additionally, Massimo Cellino, the controversial owner of Leeds United, was also recorded at a meeting with the “investors” and offered to help them get around FA regulations.
Meanwhile, the League Managers Association has demanded that The Telegraph release raw video and transcripts to them so they can review the evidence. The paper has said they will do so after police are finished with their review.
Once law enforcement authorities are finished with the evidence, it’s not clear where or how accountability will be held next. FA chairman Greg Clarke told The Telegraph that there’s only so much the sport’s governing body in England can actually do.
”We don’t have judicial powers, so we can’t go and get a court order and do things like that. Only the police can do that. Look at the allegations against Sam Allardyce 10 years ago. The Premier League hired a QC to do an analysis, we referred it to the police, we did interviews ourselves, and it was all, ‘He said, she said’. There was no evidence. I’ve put all these issues to the board and suggested that we have a fundamental review of our disciplinary processes and they’ve agreed to that and that’s happening.”
That said, the FA isn’t content to sit on the touchline. They released this statement within the past hour:
One thing remains clear— this scandal hasn’t hit bottom just yet.