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The Ugly Side of the Beautiful Game....

Well, I've seen it all now.

Sam Allardyce - or 'Big Sam' as he has always been affectionately called by the press - has left his post as England manager after 67 days and 1 match in charge after being caught in a sting offering his services to some dodgy 'businessmen' which went well against football rules.

OK, you could say the set-up by reporters from the 'Daily Telegraph' was not your usual exposure by the tabloid press. The 'Telegraph', or 'Torygraph' as it is known as in some circles, is seen as a pillar of society, so the fact it felt the need to entice Allardyce in what some would call entrapment shows the strength of the belief that behind the seemingly friendly bluster of Big Sam lay something rotten. There had been rumours apparently going back years involving shady deals and bungs, as well as a case a few years ago where an allegation was dismissed. But the smoke of suspicion continued to linger, and the fact that Allardyce and the FA came to an agreement so quickly shows the paper's actions on this occasion can be justified.

But what of the FA? Yet again they have been shown up as a set of buffoons, out of touch with reality and custodians of a sport which like so many cannot legislate over the vast sums of money that have flowed into the game in recent years. They have been unable to counter the influence of agents, foreign owners with eye-watering sums of money, the influx of foreign players, TV money, etc, which have meant the spirit of trust, fair play, and playing by the rules have been overlooked or circumvented. And in being so ineffectual, they have undermined the sport they oversee.

Likewise, the England team that Allardyce managed for the shortest period of any incumbent has been undermined by this FA incompetence and ambivalence. Last season a survey found that 59% of the players in the Premier League were not qualified to play for any of the home nations. And without the esprit de corps of the Welsh and Northern Irish squads, who have less expectations placed on them, it is no wonder that yet again England failed in a major tournament again this year, a situation that led to Big Sam ultimately getting his ill-fated opportunity.

Allardyce in many ways was a victim of the climate and environment in which he worked, where the presence of shadowy figures and shady deals are seemingly the norm, but where English football goes from here who knows.

The so-called 'beautiful game' is not looking so good right now....

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