By most standards of football administration, the governance in English football is pretty good and has improved considerably over the last ten years. But at the same time you have colossal amounts of money now and the new TV deal is worth 70% more than before – so the stakes are even higher. As a result there is a toleration of the sort middle-men that Sam Allardyce was filmed with. These are not just licensed agents but all sorts of fixers who cream off decent parts of the takings.
Whenever you have large amounts of money in both life and sport, you are going to have some form of corruption. This toleration of fixers is what partly did for Allardyce.
Historically, footballers like their money – there is no two ways about it. They want to know exactly what’s in it for them, and even when you talk to them about relatively small fees they want to be measured against what their teammates get or what their fellow managers get. They will always go out looking for more.
It was certainly more blatant in the past. There were fewer intermediaries too, and of course managers were certainly not as well paid. That’s why you had people like Brian Clough and George Graham implicated in ‘bung’ scandals. There has been a lot of noise about certain figures in English football management for as long as I have been in journalism, but you do wonder if it is a generational thing and whether some of the new generation – who have been multi-millionaires as players before they've become managers, and are earning three or four million a year – feel the need to take more.
For a comparison, you only have to look at Italian football, which English football overtook as the premier football league in Europe, and the multitude of scandals they have encountered. Recently you've had the Calciopoli scandal which saw Juventus relegated and stripped of two titles, and then you have the Italian FA chairman being banned for racist abuse.
Another thing to bear in mind is that because of the money involved and the prestige, English football at every level has become a meeting point for all sorts of sporting and foreign cultures coming into the game. Taking a bung might be quite normal for a foreign player coming in whose agents, representatives and former club, don't adhere to the same standards that are in English football.