Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Football Bung Inquiry Is Powerless to Punish Agents

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Football Bung Inquiry Is Powerless to Punish Agents

Article excerpt

Byline: ADRIAN WARNER

ROGUE agents who have refused to co-operate in the Lord Stevens inquiry into football transfer bungs are set to escape punishment.

The former Metropolitan Police Commissioner's nine-month investigation into alleged corruption has been sabotaged by some agents who have refused to open their books to his Quest team of investigators.

But the Evening Standard has learned that the Football Association is likely to struggle to punish agents who have blocked the probe because of two key legal technicalities: . The Stevens inquiry does not have the power of a criminal or official Government investigation to force agents to co-operate.

. Some of the Quest's team questions have not been specific enough. This has made it easier for agents to refuse to answer them without fear of facing sanctions.

One leading agent revealed today: "In some cases this inquiry has been a bit of a fishing expedition with general requests for agents to open up all of their books rather than requests for specific details of specific transfers that are being probed."

Pressure for action on the alleged bungs culture increased this year after a BBC Panorama expose in which three agents claimed that Premiership manager Sam Allardyce, of Bolton, had been involved in irregularities.

The investigation into all 362 Premiership transfers between January 2004 and January 2006 reaches a key phase tomorrow when Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore and Lord Stevens will hold a joint press conference.

Agents who refuse to cooperate in an FA inquiry can be charged with misconduct. The governing body also has the right to request information from FAlicensed agents' bank accounts.

The association today confirmed that Lord Stevens had asked it to use these powers during his investigation, which is now focusing on eight clubs and 39 transfers. …

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