Cardiff boss Neil Warnock accused of taking money from players for playtime

Neil Warnock faced allegations of being "crooked" and of giving players "extra wages and appearance bonuses to make sure they pay him.

Published: 18th October 2016 07:58 AM  |   Last Updated: 18th October 2016 08:38 AM   |  A+A-


Former Crystal Palace manager Neil Warnock | (File Photo/AFP)

By The Daily Telegraph

A former Premier League manager was accused of making players pay him for a place in the team, a parliamentary hearing into The Daily Telegraph's football investigation has been told. 

Neil Warnock faced allegations of being "crooked" and of giving players "extra wages and appearance bonuses to make sure they pay him to get in the team or on the bench".

The claims were first made by Jason Puncheon, who played for Warnock in the Premier League, and were repeated yesterday (Monday) in a parliamentary hearing where MPs accused the Football Association of a "lack of curiosity" over corruption claims.

Puncheon made allegations against Warnock in a series of tweets, which were later deleted and resulted in him being fined pounds 15,000 by the FA for failing to act in the best interests of the game.

It came as Greg Clarke, chairman of the FA, told the hearing that future England managers will be banned from taking other paid work after The Daily Telegraph revealed that Sam Allardyce had negotiated a pounds 400,000 contract with a fictitious company.

Allardyce lost his job following the investigation. Yesterday the FA was accused of failing to do due diligence on his appointment in the wake of previous allegations about his conduct.

Damian Collins, acting chairman of the culture, media and sport select committee, told Mr Clarke: "I think lots of people saw this coming. It's only the FA that didn't." Mr Clarke confirmed to MPs that Allardyce was given a pay-off from his job, which saw him take charge of just one game of a two-year contract.

The committee was convened following The Daily Telegraph's investigation into the integrity of football.

Mr Collins began by reading a series of social media messages posted publicly by Puncheon in 2014 in which he accused Warnock, currently the Cardiff City FC manager, of making players pay him to get into his team.

The footballer, who played under Warnock for Crystal Palace and Queens Park Rangers, tweeted: "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 n app bonus to make sure they pay him to get in the team or on the bench." 

Mr Clarke was asked why the FA had not contacted Puncheon to ask him why he made the comments, rather than fining him.

Mr Collins asked Mr Clarke whether the governing body had a "lack of curiosity" about accusations of wrongdoing and quoted Puncheon's tweets, which the player posted in response to criticism of him by Warnock on a radio programme.

Mr Clarke said he had not been in his job at the time, and was unaware of what had happened, to which Mr Collins replied: "I think it would be pretty poor if someone has gone public and they don't have any contact from the FA asking why have they made this allegation."

Robert Sullivan, the FA's director of strategy, who was also giving evidence, said: "There are comments made on social media and there is hard evidence."

Warnock last night described the claims as "completely and utterly false". The 67-year-old, who has managed 17 clubs at Premier League level and below, said last night: "The FA Commission considered all of the evidence in detail in 2014 and it found that the allegations which were published about me were unfounded.

"Any suggestion that the FA failed to investigate this matter is simply untrue. In fact, Mr Puncheon apologised to me and removed the allegations from his Twitter account. I am disappointed that these allegations have been repeated after Mr Puncheon's apology and after the FA investigated fully." 

Under parliamentary privilege, serving MPs have legal immunity with regard to allegations made in the Commons, so that they can make potentially defamatory claims without fear of being sued for libel.

The committee also discussed Allardyce's departure, asking whether the FA had done enough due diligence on Allardyce before he was appointed, given that questions about his conduct had been raised in a previous FA-commissioned investigation into corruption.

Mr Clarke said he had not been able to ascertain if Allardyce was asked about the 2006 investigation by the former Metropolitan Police commissioner Lord Stevens or about a Panorama programme which also made allegations about his conduct. Allardyce has always denied wrongdoing.

Mr Collins said it was "astonishing" that FA chiefs appeared not to have asked Allardyce about the previous claims before hiring him. Mr Collins said: "The FA appointed an England manager who was a central figure in the biggest ever investigation initiated by football into improper payments and bungs. David Gill [vice-chairman of the FA] said no one saw this coming. I think lots of people saw this coming. It's only the FA that didn't."

Mr Clarke said: "I will find out whether those questions were asked." He confirmed that Allardyce was given a pay-off when he left his post, but would not disclose how much. Previous reports have suggested the sum was pounds 1 million.


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