Allardyce: brought down by good journalism not entrapment

I'm as gutted as anyone to see the manager of England - a man who I wanted to see in the job - lose the role after 67 days and just one game in charge.

Sam Allardyce never seemed to get the credit he deserved during his long club management career, and this summer Portugal showed that a pragmatic approach to football could bring success, so it seemed like he was to be given his chance.

But that chance has gone. Disappeared in a puff of greed.

I have noticed that some, not least 'Big Sam' himself, are pointing fingers at the journalism that took him down. They are calling it entrapment and claiming that journalists were out to make him look bad.

Poppycock, balderdash and buffoonery. The investigation by the Daily Telegraph has uncovered serious wrong-doing across the sport and the journalists and newspaper must be applauded for its tenacity.

I have been deeply critical of undercover 'entrapment-style' journalism in the past. The Fake Sheikh, Mazher Mahmood, was an appalling example of journalistic entrapment. His method was to get C list celebs in a room, offer them oodles of cash and then enquire if they knew where he could get drugs and could they help him get some.

Of course, not wanting to lose the cash or the opportunity to star in films, they mostly said 'yes' and then found themselves splashed all over the front pages of now defunct News of The World.

But, if there is a genuine need for investigation and the 'sting' is only part of a wider journalistic strategy, there is a place for this style of journalism.

So does the Daily Telegraph investigation pass my test?

Well, anyone who hasn't had their head in the sand for the past few years knows that there is a problem with corruption and dubious practice in football - the downfall of Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini are clear evidence of this.

Allardyce has previously been implicated in dubious practice as part of a BBC Panorama investigation into dealings with his son, Craig - a football agent. No charges were brought but the 2007 Stevens report into football corruption stated:
″The inquiry remains concerned at the conflict of interest that it believes existed between Craig Allardyce, his father Sam Allardyce – the then manager at Bolton – and the club itself."
Whether the sting is part of a wider journalism strategy or not is less clear. The follow-up revelations today that eight Premier League managers have taken 'bungs' was also filmed undercover in 'sting' style.

I feel this too is justified. The Daily Telegraph investigations team - the same one that did such a great job on MPs expenses - is not targeting an individual in the manner of Mahmood but conducting an institution-wide inquiry into corporation, amoral activity and greed within football.

Big Sam is no starry-eyed, 20-something C lister. He is one of the most experienced football managers in the game, was on a massive £3m salary, and at the peak of his profession.

In short, he had no business doing another job at all, let alone one which may have enabled people to circumvent rules established to protect the game.

It is not that long since the sting was turned on tabloid journalists with great effect by Chris Atkins as part of the excellent film Starsuckers. In that he exposed wrongdoing within journalism by dangling carrots such as confidential medical information in front of journalists.

Not long after that Nick Davies and the Guardian exposed the level of corruption and criminality within journalism with the hacking scandal which sent many senior journalists to jail.

The Sting should never be a fishing trip where you hope to uncover a juicy titbit but, as a targeted tactic of an undercover investigation, it is vital in this age of super-injunctions and secrecy.

All power to the Daily Telegraph I say.

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