English Premier League 'Bungs' Inquiry: Will It Prove to Be a 'Whitewash'?

The International Sports Law Journal, July-October 2006 | Go to article overview

English Premier League 'Bungs' Inquiry: Will It Prove to Be a 'Whitewash'?


The English Language is a treasure trove of colourful words and expressions. And one such expression, that has passed into common parlance in the last fifteen years or so, is the 'bung'. This denotes a bribe--or, to use more euphemistic language, a secret payment to facilitate or sweeten a particular transaction. In fact, 'bungs' have become common currency in doing business in sport in general and football in particular. Indeed, 'bungs' in football have come to be regarded in some quarters as--to use a golfing metaphor--'par for the course'. In other words, part of the culture and tradition of football. 'Everybody does it, so it must be alright', seems to be the justification for this practice, which, in other quarters, is regarded as, if not illegal, then, certainly, unethical.

The controversial subject of 'bungs' has recently resurfaced as a result of remarks made by the England Head Coach, Sven-Goran Erikkson, to undercover reporters of and published in the British Sunday newspaper, the 'News of the World'. Erikkson is alleged to have said that three unnamed English Premier League clubs have been involved in 'bungs'. In addition to these statements, Luton Town manager, Mike Newall, and Queen's Park Rangers manager, Ian Holloway, have also recently said that they have been offered inducements for player transfers.

The frenzy whipped up by the Press following these 'revelations' has put the English Premier League--the world's most financially successful football league--under considerable pressure to investigate these claims. So, in view of all the speculation, the chief executive of the League, Richard Scudamore, recently announced that the League will carry out its own Inquiry, saying that "Due to their frequent and persistent nature, allegations of wrongdoing, real or perceived, must be addressed." And adding: "One of our problems is that it's almost accepted as a given that these things go on." What a terrible admission to make!

The Inquiry is backed by all 20 clubs that play in the League. And, it has recently been announced, that the former London Metropolitan Police Chief, Lord Stephens, will lead it. He is also currently heading a special inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the untimely death of Princess Diana in a Paris car crash several years ago.

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English Premier League 'Bungs' Inquiry: Will It Prove to Be a 'Whitewash'?
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