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By ESPN Staff
Sep 23, 2008

Newell dismisses bung inquiry as a 'publicity stunt'

Former Luton manager Mike Newell has labelled the investigation into transfer market corruption as a "publicity stunt''.

Newell's comments regarding the alleged use of illegal payments or 'bungs' in transfer dealings in January 2006 prompted the Premier League to launch an inquiry headed by Lord Stevens, a former Metropolitan Police commissioner.

After looking at 362 transfers, Lord Stevens highlighted several areas of concern and revealed 17 deals which required further investigation, with the Football Association becoming involved in the probe at that stage.

Only days after Newell's claims that illegal payments were rife in the game, FA chief executive Brian Barwick contacted the former Luton manager to arrange a meeting where his comments could be discussed in more detail.

And despite revealing that he had been offered two bungs while managing the Hatters at the meeting, Newell claimed the resulting Lord Stevens inquiry in no way tackled the whole issue and was designed to gloss over a problem which he claims is widespread.

"They sat me down in front of two or three lawyers I think it was, and wanted to know anything I could tell them. I had no problem and sat there for an hour and a half and told them my concerns,'' he said.

"The outcome was that the Premier League launched the Lord Stevens inquiry that looked into the past two years' transfers only in the Premier League.

"It was a publicity stunt to me.''

Despite coming in for heavy criticism from Newell, the FA thanked him for his co-operation on the matter in a statement today.

An FA spokesman said: "The information provided to us by Mike Newell was extremely useful in our efforts to regulate the game and deal with transfer irregularities.

"His evidence enabled the FA to take action in respect of breaches of FA Rules by Luton Town, the former directors of the club, and a number of agents. Information that he passed on to us has also led to charges being brought against agent Charles Collymore.''

The Premier League declined to comment but pointed to tightening of regulations on both theirs and the FA's part, and the professional nature of the investigation as an indication of how seriously they are treating the subject.

Newell also revealed his decision to speak out was "borne out of frustration'' and that he had "no regrets at all'' about lifting the lid on illegal payments in football.

"It was borne out of frustration and wasn't pre-meditated in any way,'' he said.

"I was invited to launch Coca-Cola's 'Win a Player' competition with two other managers and the question was asked of me again, 'Was money going out of the game?', and I began to vent my frustrations and one thing led to another.

"Plenty of people had inferred that agents were paying bungs or sweeteners, but nobody working in the game had said it. And the question was asked of me, 'Had I ever been offered a bung?', to which I said 'Yes'.''

Newell, who was relieved from his duties as Luton boss while the inquiry was ongoing, said he had received little support from those within the game but explained that he expects few others to speak out and little to change.

He said: "At any one time there are only 92 jobs and when one becomes available you get 60 or 70 applicants of which 10 of them will be very serious. That's the reason why nobody has ever said it before and it is the reason why nobody backed me. People don't want to rock the boat and lose their job.''

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