Former Sunderland caretaker boss Eric Black named in Daily Telegraph’s football probe

Eric Black
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Former Sunderland caretaker boss Eric Black has featured in the Daily Telegraph’s investigations into corruption in football.

Black is currently assistant manager to Claude Puel at Southampton, and the Saints have pledged to assist the Football Association and Premier League in investigating the claims.

The Telegraph claim that Black had offered advice on how to bribe officials at other clubs.

Black, a coach under Steve Bruce at the Black Cats and in charge for one game (a 2-1 defeat at Wolves) before Martin O’Neill took the reins in December 2011, was filmed apparently saying there are staff at other clubs who possibly be persuaded to give information about a player to a management company for money. He has denied the allegations.

The Telegraph posted a video of Black, 52, meeting an undercover reporter in a hotel, the journalist purporting to be a representative of a Far East firm looking to invest in English football.

According to the report, the meeting was arranged by Scott McGarvey, the football agent who also teed up Sam Allardyce’s now ill-fated meeting with undercover reporters which cost him his job as England manager. McGarvey also denies any wrongdoing.

The video appears to show Black and McGarvey discussing managers and coaches in the lower leagues and how they could possibly be persuaded to identify players who could be signed up on management contracts.

FA rules state that intermediaries “must not give, offer or seek to offer, any consideration of any kind” to a club official “in return for any benefit, service, favour or any kind of preferential treatment”.

A spokesman for Black told the Telegraph: “(Mr Black) does not recall Mr McGarvey making suggestions that football officials should be paid during transfer negotiations – this was not the purpose of the meeting so far as our client understood it. Any suggestion that he was complicit in such discussions is false.”

Lawyer Graham Small, representing McGarvey, said: “Mr McGarvey vehemently denies making remarks which are being attributed to him. Given that he is still involved in the football industry, he is rightly concerned about the possibility of his good name being impugned and he intends to vigorously defend his reputation.”

Ex-Aberdeen and Scotland striker Black was appointed to Southampton’s staff during the summer.

Meanwhile, Barnsley assistant head coach Tommy Wright – son of 1950s Sunderland star Tommy Wright – has been sacked as a result of the allegations that he took a £5,000 payment from undercover reporters. The 50-year-old maintains his innocence.

A statement published on the Tykes’ website explained that Wright was summoned yesterday morning to meet chief executive Linton Brown, who decided to dismiss him after hearing his response to the Telegraph report.

“The club was unaware of such matters nor was it involved in any wrongdoing,” the statement added, before saying it could continue to investigate the matter and cooperate with the authorities.

Wright is now the second man named by the Telegraph in its undercover investigation into corruption in football to lose his job, following Allardyce.

The former Leeds and Oldham winger was filmed apparently telling agents and reporters pretending to work for a bogus Asian investment firm that he could place players at the Championship club in return for illicit payments.

“I can just recommend players to you...that I’ve gone and seen, and then you’ll have to do your spicy dealing, whatever you do,” he is filmed saying.

According to the newspaper, when Wright was offered at a subsequent meeting an envelope which it claims contained banknotes, he said “cheers, just put it there”, indicating an adjacent seat.