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By ESPN Staff

Sports Minister calls for BBC to hand over evidence

Sports minister Richard Caborn has called for BBC's Panorama programme makers to hand over any evidence of illegal payments made to Bolton boss Sam Allardyce and other Premiership managers to Lord Stevens' bung inquiry.

Caborn said the allegations made by Panorama damaged the integrity of football.

The programme, titled 'Undercover: Football's Dirty Secrets', alleged Allardyce and his son Craig, a football agent, received illegal payments and also made accusations of wrongdoing by several other figures in the game.

The Allardyces and all those named in the programme issued statements to the BBC denying they had done anything wrong.

Caborn now wants Panorama to hand over evidence to the Stevens inquiry to back up their claim that 18 Premiership managers past and present had been named as having taken illegal payments.

The minister said: 'The integrity of sport needs to be upheld and there are proper rules for managers and agents. These allegations damage the integrity of football and need to be looked at properly.

'The programme alleged they had names of 18 managers who had received illegal payments, and I think they should give all their findings over to the Lord Stevens inquiry.

'This reinforces what I have been trying to do to bring in greater regulation into football through the European Football Review.'

The Football Association have said will investigate any evidence of alleged wrongdoing provided to them by Panorama.

An FA spokesman said: 'We have watched the programme with great interest and have asked the BBC if they will share the findings from their investigation with us.

'If we have evidence of possible breaches of rules and regulations, we will of course investigate that.'

The Premier League have already instigated an inquiry into illegal payments in the game and Stevens is due to reveal his findings on October 2.

Stevens, a former Metropolitan Police commissioner, has been auditing all 362 transfers conducted by 26 clubs between January 1, 2004 and January 31, 2006.

The Premier League have asked for the BBC to make their evidence available to the Stevens inquiry.

A statement said: 'The Premier League takes all allegations of this nature seriously, which is why we launched an inquiry into alleged irregular payments in transfers back in January of this year.

'As we have made clear any evidence from any source is welcomed. Indeed when the BBC initially approached us regarding Panorama's findings we requested they be submitted to Lord Stevens for investigation.

'We hope now the BBC has had the opportunity to broadcast that their documentary evidence and filming will be made available to Lord Stevens and his team.

'There are allegations concerning other potential breaches of industry rules in the programme that fall outside the terms of reference of Lord Stevens' inquiry.

'Again we request the BBC pass on their evidence in order that the FA and ourselves can examine all aspects of these allegations in order to determine the most appropriate course of action that each body should take.'