Can Sam Allardyce's reputation bounce back from the Telegraph's sting operation?

England manager Sam Allardyce's reputation lay in tatters this morning following a sting in the Telegraph in which he allegedly advised undercover reporters how to "get around" strict FA rules on player transfers and offered his services as a keynote speaker for £400,000.

Sam Allardyce at the World Cup qualifier between Slovakia and England earlier this month (© McManus/BPI/REX/Shutterstock)
Sam Allardyce at the World Cup qualifier between Slovakia and England earlier this month (© McManus/BPI/REX/Shutterstock)
A 10-month investigation into bribery and corruption in British football led to reporters arranging a meeting with Allardyce in last month, less than a month after he was hired to the £3-million a year job of England manager.

At secretly filmed meetings with Allardyce in Hong Kong and Singapore, reporters posed as businessmen purporting to represent a company hoping to profit from the Premier League’s billion-pound transfer market.

During these meetings, it is alleged that Allardyce told reporters how to circumvent FA rules banning third parties from owning footballers.

He is also alleged to have struck a deal in principle, worth £400,000, for him to represent the undercover reporter’s fictitious company and to be a keynote speaker at events, although the reporters were told that this arrangement would have to be "run past the powers that be".

Allardyce also criticised his predecessors, Roy Hodgson and number two Gary Neville, during the meetings, calling Hodgson "indecisive" and Neville "the wrong influence".

Allardyce, who took over from Hodgson in July following a England’s disastrous European Championships, will face the FA when it meets this morning to decide his fate.

So far, Allardyce has offered no response to the Telegraph or other media but the FA has said it will investigate.

Commenting on whether Allardyce could do anything to restore his reputation following the sting, PR professionals with expertise in both sport and reputation gave their verdicts. 

Adam Raincock, director of PR at sport marketing agency Synergy, said Alladyce could only hold his hands up and apologise.

He added: "The England manager must hold himself to a high moral standard and Sam Allardyce has fallen below that. His reputation within the football establishment will be damaged for some time but football supporters have short memories. Fans are used to high-profile figures in the game getting embroiled in scandals and for them what happens on the pitch is what really matters."

Martin Sheehan, former head of strategic comms at No.10 and a senior partner at Portland, said the England manager’s fate was by no means certain.

He added: "His future is now in the hands of two audiences – the players and his employers. If on substance his credibility is damaged too much with them then no amount of communications will help him. At this point we don’t know if there will be further revelations."

For David Alexander, founder of specialist sports PR agency Calacus, there is no way back for the England boss. He said: "The revelations in the Telegraph are as damning as they are embarrassing and it's hard to see what Allardyce can do to salvage the situation."

Raincock praised the FA’s calm response to the allegations and said they would want to speak to Allardyce before releasing a statement.

He added: "The FA needs to act swiftly, gather the facts and make a quick decision to avoid the story gathering momentum."

Sheehan agreed that the FA should take the time to get the facts straight and resist the temptation to respond to the initial heat generated by the story.

He said: "There is a long and ignoble history of reacting quickly and regretting at leisure on half the facts."

Additional reporting: Sam Burne James and John Harrington

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