by Rob Shepherd.
I was stunned to see a an article last week which on the 10th anniversary of Brian Cough’s death chose not to praise the great man but rake over dirt with regards to allegations of bungs.
Now I have heard most of the stories about Clough and many others with regards to clandestine meets at Service stations and brown envelopes stuffed with ‘Bullseyes’ – Not saying it was right, but it went on all right.
A few decades ago the way to lure a talented kid from one club to another was to buy a washing machine for the mum and a sheepskin coat for the dad.
Yes, that really did happen. I’ve seen it. Then as agents started to emerge there were all sorts of sweeteners to make a deal happen.
When the figures escalated and greed set in then there was always going to be tipping point. As George Graham discovered.
There were many stories about Clough and others to suggest that George ended up carrying the can for the bung culture. But was it such an heinous crime..?
In big business now and then you have to oil the wheels to get a deal done.
And if someone wants to get serious about assaulting the memory of a deceased man such as the great Brian Clough OBE (aka Old Big ‘Ead), then perhaps they should examine how some transfers work now.
There are no longer pound note bungs as such. But there are commissions, which are in most cases technically legal, with money paid to agents, agency corporations, whereby I have heard it alleged that there are substantial kickbacks for managers and even chairman.
They are often executed by electronic transfer to offshore accounts.
You see once the sweet smelling lawyers are involved – not the sweaty men of football from the street – it’s all perfectly OK, even if you could argue that ‘above board’ is actually underhand.
Or as one of the first football agents to hit the scene in the early Eighties put it to me the other day: ‘I believe Falcao’s agent got 5m euros for arranging a loan deal to Man United. Then I read someone slaughtering Brian Clough. Five million euros. Listen, I’ve never been adverse to a pound note but that’s wrong.
‘Cloughie just wanted to get a deal done to improve his team and give a few people a drink out of it. But now..? I’ll tell you this, the balance sheets of many football clubs would look a hell of a lot better, my boy, if they brought back the brown paper envelopes. It would be much cheaper for one. Plus you might actually see a winning team like Clough produced. I did a few deals with him. Can’t believe someone has p****d on his grave.’