I’ve been quiet about the BBC Panorama affair so far, mainly because seeing the whole situation being played out in the media and handled so crassly just makes me angry.
I’m wondering at the BBC’s angle here – what were they trying to achieve from a half-assed, laughable and ultimately unsuccessful undercover “sting” operation?
Neither Arnesen nor Redknapp are really implicated here – what the film actually does is give football agents an even worse reputation than before (and here we thought that wasn’t possible after the Ashley Cole affair). Sam Allardyce is in a bit of a pickle, but there is enough ‘doubt’ that he will not be prosecuted against, even if his reputation is tarnished beyond repair.
However, with the FA and Premier League both interested in the “evidence”, there’s no telling where the “authorities” will go with this. A heavy-handed response could see Allardyce banned from management, something that many football fans would be amenable to but something that is totally unnecessary. The heart of the problem revolves around money-grabbing agents and poorly-crafted rules.
Kevin McCarra’s audacious suggestion that ‘tapping up should be made legal‘ is in reality a very intelligent arugment – once you force everything to be played out in the open it is easier to monitor and regulate it.
Ultimately, Panorama’s revelations will do no good. Lord Stevens’ report will not do much good either. There is no such thing as a measured, intelligent and effective action in dictionary of the footballing establishment.
BBC Panaroma can be commended on one thing – they have forced the authorities to take action. But knowing that any action taken will either be ineffective or too heavy-handed, one wonders the point of the whole exercise – surely it would have been better to take more time and provide a more factual account of how money has to be regulated between clubs and agents?
The problem is that agents have a job to do as well, and like it or not they are a part of a system which works best with them in it. Football needs the big money to provide entertainment and it needs the agents to help players keep a grip on things. The challenge is to move forward by taking all these aspects together and finding a way to make them work, transparently and without too much fuss.
I’m not sure the current football establishment is capable of that.