Sam Allardyce: The FA were entitled to sack England manager for misconduct, says leading sports lawyer

Joe Hall
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Sam Allardyce was filmed saying it was possible to circumvent FA rules on player transfers (Source: Getty)

The Football Association [FA] would have been legally entitled to sack England manager Sam Allardyce after he was filmed appearing to advise how to circumvent transfer rules, according to a leading sports lawyer.

Allardyce left his position tonight after just one game in charge after apologising for his alleged comments to undercover reporters from a national newspaper posing as Far East businessmen.

He was asked to explain recorded comments in which he refers to FA rules banning third party ownership of players as "ridiculous" and tells the reporters "you can still get around it".

According to an expert on employment law in sport, Allardyce's remarks left him open to dismissal.

Read more: England boss Sam Allardyce faces uncertain future after undercover investigation

"Contractually, could the FA say that he's in breach of contract? Definitely," barrister John Mehrzad, head of the sports law group at Littleton Chambers, told City A.M.

"If you are the head coach of England and you have indicated that you could assist or encourage some parties to breach FA regulations — in my view that is sufficiently serious to amount to a summary dismissal for a misconduct offence.

"Within football contracts you will have catch-all terms saying ‘You will abide by all your duties including any regulatory duties’. These are the FA’s rules and regulations being discussed and you can’t be doing anything to breach them or to encourage other people to breach them."

Mehrzad believes if Allardyce had made a similar infringement in most other industries, the argument against whether or not he should be sacked would be clear cut.

"Imagine if a very senior executive at an investment bank went to a private meeting with prospective clients and said 'Don't worry about money laundering regulations, there's ways around them,'" says Mehrzad, who has worked on the Premier League Managers' arbitration panel.

"Just imagine that senior banker then going back into his workplace afterwards. He wouldn't have his job. He wouldn't even have his licence to practise in the City anymore.

"The mere fact that Allardyce hasn't done it [broken FA rules] doesn't amount to a defence. He should not be in a position suggesting that there is a way around FA regulation."