LONDON (Reuters) – Sam Allardyce was sacked as England manager on Tuesday having behaved “inappropriately” when seeking a lucrative sideline role while talking to undercover reporters, bringing a crushing end to his dream job after one match and 67 days in charge.
The 61-year-old’s fall from grace was swift after he was summoned to a meeting with new FA chairman Greg Clarke and chief executive Martin Glenn to discuss overnight revelations from an undercover sting set up by Britain’s Daily Telegraph newspaper.
Amid a series of injudicious comments, the issue that seems likely to have persuaded Clarke to use his authority was Allardyce’s comments about how FA and FIFA rules banning transfers involving third-party ownership could be circumnavigated.
The Telegraph, which says it has hundreds of pages of transcripts from the meeting, said Sam Allardyce was negotiating a deal worth 400,000 pounds ($520,840.00) to represent a Far East firm seeking advice on the transfer market.
The money would be paid for a series of visits and speeches and, though Sam Allardyce made it clear at the meeting that any arrangement would have to be cleared with the FA and on Tuesday apologised for what he described as an error of judgement, he was forced out of the biggest job in British football.
“Allardyce’s conduct was inappropriate of the England manager,” the FA said in a statement.
“He accepts he made a significant error of judgement and has apologised. However, due to the serious nature of his actions, The FA and Allardyce have mutually agreed to terminate his contract with immediate effect.
“This is not a decision that was taken lightly but The FA’s priority is to protect the wider interests of the game and maintain the highest standards of conduct in football.
“The manager of the England men’s senior team is a position which must demonstrate strong leadership and show respect for the integrity of the game at all times.”
Sam Allardyce, a former no-nonsense centre half, built his managerial reputation largely by getting the best out of unfashionable or struggling clubs, including Bolton Wanderers, Newcastle United, Blackburn Rovers, West Ham United and Sunderland.
He was appointed England manager in July following the departure of Roy Hodgson after this year’s poor showing by England at the European Championship and has overseen only the 1-0 World Cup qualifying win over Slovakia.
One of the highest-paid managers in the game with a salary of about three million pounds ($3.9 million) a year, Sam Allardyce was secretly filmed by the Telegraph discussing England’s failings with a group he had been told were businessmen with interests in Singapore and Hong Kong.
During his meetings with the newspaper’s undercover reporters, Sam Allardyce also criticised his predecessor Hodgson’s speech impediment, referring to him as “Woy” and saying he “hasn’t got the personality” for public speaking.
He also made a rambling attack on the UK’s tax authorities, calling them “the most corrupt business in Britain”.
“We’ve concluded, and Sam’s agreed, that his behaviour has been inappropriate,” the FA’s Glenn said. “(It’s) not what’s expected of an England manager, discussing a range of issues from potential contraventions of FA rules to personal comments that frankly don’t work when you’re the manager of England.
“Sam is absolutely distraught, he recognises that he made a terrible error of judgement and I think he recognises as well that whilst it’s a tough decision that the FA are taking, he can see that at least we have a point.”
Seventeen years after former England manager Glenn Hoddle was sacked for making comments about the disabled, Sam Allardyce leaves with the tag of being his country’s shortest-serving manager.
There seemed little sympathy for him among those giving early reaction to the news.
“I’m angry, I’m sad, I’m staggered at the misjudgement from a guy who admitted this was his dream job,” former England striker Alan Shearer told the BBC. “It’s incredible and a catastrophic misjudgement by Sam and his advisors.”
“I’m angry at the whole situation, I didn’t think England could stoop any lower from what happened in the summer at the Euros. Now here we are, a laughing stock of world football.”
Gareth Southgate, the early favourite for the job, will take charge of the next four matches against Malta, Slovenia, Scotland and Spain while the FA searches for a new England manager, with Steve Bruce, Alan Pardew and Eddie Howe also in the running.
By Mitch Phillips
Editing by Ken Ferris