Four years ago Sam Allardyce’s tenure as England manager came to a swift end after just 67 days and one match in charge.
It was the shortest tenure of any permanent England manager, after he was the target of an embarrassing Daily Telegraph sting that cost him his job.
He was condemned by the FA for ‘inappropriate’ conduct and a ‘serious error of judgment’ after he used his job to negotiate a £400,000 deal with undercover reporters, posing as businessmen, and offered them advice on how to get around transfer rules.
Scott McGarvey was the agent with Allardyce during the scandal that cost him his dream job.
Extracts from the forthcoming autobiography Sort it out Scotty – My life as a footballer and agent by Scott McGarvey, detail his role…
Four years ago Sam Allardyce’s tenure as England manager came to an end after 67 days
That conversation still makes me sick. Sick to the very pit of my stomach.
‘I’m sorry Mr McGarvey, there is no job or Meiran Sports. You have been part of a newspaper investigation into football corruption. I’ll send you an email, you and your solicitor can get in touch on Monday. Would you like to add anything?’
‘You what?’ The disbelief, the anger spewed out of me. ‘F**k off! When I see you I’ll, I’ll… I’ve signed a contract!’
I had signed a contract. I’d signed a contract for £218,000 a year after tax and they’d ordered me a Range Rover. I’d been working with them for four months, they’d paid expenses for my travel and opened an office in London. The reason I’d phoned them that Sunday morning was to ask when the car was coming and for my copy of the contract. If I hadn’t called would I have been used for longer, setting up other meetings?
How could I have been taken in like that?
My head was spinning. ‘I can assure you, we are not after you,’ he said, ‘…it’s Sam we want.’
What had I done?
Allardyce’s tenure was shortest of any England manager and he was in charge for one game
Agent Scott McGarvey was at the heart of the scandal that rocked English football
I’d introduced them to Sam Allardyce the England manager, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, boss at QPR and Eric Black at Southampton.
I called Sam. It went to answerphone. I called my lawyer. I was racking my brains, what had I said?
Sam called back. He was on the golf course. I splurted out what had happened. ‘Sort it out, Scotty. It’s a stitch-up,’ he said, remarkably pragmatic. ‘We’ve done nothing wrong.’
He was right, we’d done nothing wrong.
Three days later, Sam Allardyce was no longer the England football team manager.
It was my fault. My f*****g fault.
Sam was my mate. He had only turned up to those meetings for me, to ensure I got the job.
Times had been hard sure but I was back on my feet again when the phone had gone in June and the woman on the end of the phone introduced herself.
Allardyce was caught out by a newspaper sting that cost him the job he had dreamed of
She was working on behalf of a wealthy businessman based in Asia. His company Meiran Sports wanted to start an agency.
We discussed bringing in players, taking football personalities to the Far East for motivational speaking dates, they fished about third-party ownership and I suggested if they had that much money they’d be better off buying a football club… one like Leeds United.
I’d been recommended and they were willing to offer an attractive package for me to come on board and broker introductions. The salary was big, yes, but if you are going to do things properly in modern football you need cash behind you. You are competing with millionaires, trying to attract would-be young millionaires. They often need to be impressed, see the car you are in, meet in the plush hotels.
Besides, I’d been a footballer at Manchester United since the age of 17 and an agent since 35. I knew people. I knew a lot of people. Almost everyone in the game. In my mind, I could understand why they’d asked me. They said someone at United had recommended me and I didn’t think to question that. I certainly didn’t think to question that this woman was an undercover reporter and I was being used as a pawn in their investigation.
He was condemned by the FA for ‘inappropriate’ conduct and a ‘serious error of judgment’
When I first approached Sam for them, he was Sunderland manager. We’d been friends since coming up against each other in our playing days. I’d done a few transfer deals with him over years at Bolton and West Ham. They wanted him to give speeches to businessmen. Four dates in the Far East and would pay him £150,000 a time.
We met in the Mayfair Hotel, London and at Wing’s, the Chinese restaurant in Manchester’s city centre. Beforehand the guy with me said ‘get Sam to ask for more. Ask for £250,000. This lot will pay it.’ They were setting us up. Sam didn’t bite. He never once asked for cash. He only agreed to do the talks if it was okay with the FA and left the negotiating to his agent Mark Curtis.
The Meiran guys were delighted at the end of the meeting, I thanked Sam and he turned to me to say: ‘As long as you’ve got the job Scotty. I’m not even sure if I’ll be able to do these talks but as long as it gets you the job.’
Unbeknown to us, the conversations had been recorded.
Sam was alleged to have discussed how clubs could navigate third party ownership. Even though this was later ruled to have been reported inaccurately by the Independent Press Standards Organisation, the FA ruled that it was unbefitting of an England manager and Gareth Southgate was promptly installed as caretaker.
Adam Lallana scored the only goal as England beat Slovakia in Allardyce’s sole game in charge
How could they do that? This was entrapment, surely? Surely the Football Association would see it that way?
I was devastated for Sam. I knew how much that job meant to him.
For over three years we didn’t speak again. I understood on his part. Who could blame him? My wife suggested I write a letter, I should have. I’d like to believe he knew I’d never set him up.
It’s been four years, four years of absolute s**t for me. I know Sam doesn’t blame me. He reached out to let me know after I did an interview. He knew I wouldn’t set him up. He promised we’d talk.
We never have had that conversation. It’s not self-pity it’s rage, I’d sue if I could afford. For Sam, if he’d been in charge of England for that World Cup semi final against Croatia we wouldn’t have lost.
It was only after I did an interview with the Daily Mail and then on talkSPORT radio, that Sam reached out to me. He text to say all between us was okay and we’d meet up. We just haven’t got round to it yet.