Barnsley suspend coach Tommy Wright over payment allegations

Barnsley coach Tommy Wright has been suspended  following allegations in the Daily Telegraph.  Picture: PA
Barnsley coach Tommy Wright has been suspended following allegations in the Daily Telegraph. Picture: PA
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An English Championship football team has suspended its Scottish head coach following allegations he took a £5,000 payment to help place players at his club.

Queens Park Rangers boss Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and Leeds United owner Massimo Cellino have also been shown in new video footage from the Daily Telegraph as part of its undercover investigation into corruption in football.

Hasselbaink has denied any wrongdoing, while Leeds rejected the allegations and described the report as a “non-story”.

Barnsley said it has launched an investigation into claims in the Daily Telegraph that Dunfermline-born head coach Tommy Wright accepted £5,000 during a series of meetings with a fake Far East firm.

The coach allegedly agreed to help sign players part-owned by the firm and took a bundle of £20 notes in an envelope.

The club said: “Barnsley FC is aware of allegations made by the Telegraph against Tommy Wright. The club has today suspended Tommy pending an internal investigation into these allegations.”

The Telegraph alleged that Hasselbaink requested a fee of £55,000 to work for a fake Far Eastern firm seeking to sell players to the club.

In video footage collected by the newspaper, Hasselbaink is seen asking his suitors to “come up with a nice figure” for a role, which the newspaper says he is told would involve a number of trips to meet the firm in Singapore.

Hasselbaink says: “You said the word business. That’s all, it’s business, so it depends what you put down, you know ... at the end of the day, it has to be worthwhile to go all that way.”

QPR has not suspended Hasselbaink, saying it has “every confidence” in him, but adding the 44-year-old will be subjected to a “thorough internal investigation”.

QPR said: “The club is aware of the allegations made against QPR manager Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink in the Telegraph.

“First and foremost, the club takes very seriously any alleged breach of the rules.

“With this in mind, the club can confirm that there will be a thorough internal investigation regarding this matter.

“However, we have every confidence in our manager and the robust systems and processes the club has in place.”

In addition, Hasselbaink denied any impropriety and said he saw nothing “unusual” in the prospective deal.

Hasselbaink said: “I have today, through my lawyers, responded in full to the accusations levelled against me by the Telegraph.

“I was approached by Mr McGarvey and Ms Newell of The Telegraph purporting to be players’ agents. They offered me a fee to make a speech in Singapore.

“I do not see anything unusual in being offered to be paid to make a speech.

“I did not make any promises in return. I did not ask QPR to purchase any of the players who were said to be managed by Mr McGarvey and Ms Newell and did not and would not recommend the purchase of a player for my personal gain.

“I deny any accusations of wrongdoing on my part.”

The Telegraph said it had obtained footage which appears to show the owner of Leeds United explaining to representatives of a fictitious Far East firm how they can circumvent FA and Fifa transfer rules.

The footage reportedly shows Mr Cellino suggesting they become club shareholders in order to receive a portion of players’ sell-on fees.

FA and Fifa rules ban third-party ownership of players, and third parties receiving any percentage of a player’s transfer fees.

The club described the allegations relating to Mr Cellino as a “non-story”.

It said: “The club has reviewed the supposed ‘evidence’ that the Daily Telegraph have published tonight.

“At no time in this video clip has Mr Cellino suggested getting around the FA’s rules on third-party ownership of players.

“In complete contrast to what has been suggested, Mr Cellino has made a perfectly proper suggestion which is entirely consistent with the FA’s regulations, as the only parties entitled to take benefit from ownership of a player is the club itself.

“If a company commits money to a club by way of investment, taking on the potential for profit but also the risk for loss, then that is a normal, everyday corporate process.

“This is plainly not a suggestion as to how to circumvent the rules, but rather, an accurate albeit concise explanation of how to operate within the confines of the rules and effectively become ‘the club’.

“The club intends to make no further comment on this non-story.”

The allegations form part of the Telegraph’s undercover investigation into corruption in football, which on Tuesday led to the departure of England manager Sam Allardyce.

The newspaper has also alleged that 10 as-yet-unnamed managers took bribes in player transfers.