Was this former West Ham boss the victim of entrapment?
It is nearly two months on from the dramatic conclusion of Sam Allardyce’s brief tenure as England manager. The former West Ham and Sunderland boss was dismissed just 67 days into his term as coach of the national team. He was ousted following a series of revelations arising from a Daily Telegraph investigation into corruption in the game. As the dust begins to settle on one of the most embarrassing chapters in the history of our national team, we question whether Allardyce deserves any sympathy?
Sympathy is perhaps a strange word to use; we shouldn’t forget that the 62 year old was caught on camera making wholly inappropriate comments about peers as well as discussing a £400,000 ‘business deal’. Such a deal would likely have contravened FA rules and in any case showed a total disregard for basic ethical standards. This all from a man that had just been granted one of the highest offices in world football, was there really any need for further remuneration?
The FA clearly agreed, and were swift and decisive in their judgements:
“We are the guardians of the game – we set the rules and we have to be seen to apply those rules consistently and evenly, whether you are the England manager or someone low down in the organisation,” Martin Glenn the FA’s Chief Executive said in the Telegraph.
Former England captain Alan Shearer went even further, accusing Allardyce of a ‘catastrophic misjudgement’ and labelled England the ‘laughing stock of world football’. This did after all represent the shortest and perhaps most infamous reign of a permanent England manager.
The solitary defence given by Allardyce was the line that ‘entrapment had won’. He had agreed to the meeting to aid a friend and agent Scott McGarvey in a supposed bid to land him a job.
It seems a slightly off-hand and lazy defence from Allardyce, but it does raise an interesting moral question. This is an issue that goes far beyond football but it remains an important one given the continued appetite to tackle corruption and fraud in the game. In effect Allardyce has been handed a loaded gun here, primed and ready for him to commit the crime. Agreed, it is still Allardyce that pulls the trigger and commits the offence; but would he have created such a situation for himself independent of the targeted operation?
Some would argue yes, the man clearly has a disregard for the generally accepted moral compass and set-up or no set-up would have been implicated later down the line anyway. There does however seem to be a somewhat unfair assessment of Allardyce’s generation as one that is susceptible to pushing the grey areas of legality.
On the flip side, was Allardyce not simply succumbing to the basic instincts of human nature?
We can sneer at his actions, but how many people accept bank errors in their favour? A £20 note on a supermarket floor, an unused train ticket or maybe a drink that hasn’t been charged for? These are all examples of different degrees of questionable behaviour that are widely exhibited by people throughout the country.
If you were in Allardyce’s position sat at that table would you not have to think twice about the offer?
The man in the street would possibly give it a few seconds thought, but for someone with an already lucrative job as one of the most esteemed figures in world football you would hope not.
They say that ‘money breeds money’ and that ‘greed is good’, and maybe we are all somewhat naïve to human nature, but Allardyce’s disregard for his post goes beyond the basic acceptability of human nature.
Understanding is one thing, but tolerance and sympathy is not something that should ever be levelled against Sam Allardyce.