The Football Association will discuss whether it is appropriate for Sam Allardyce to continue in his role as a brand ambassador for a sports betting company.
Allardyce, the newly installed England manager, assumed the post with My Club Betting in December last year when in charge of Sunderland. The FA is understood to be reasonably relaxed about his involvement but will consider the matter after being alerted to it by the Guardian.
My Club Betting’s selling point to Allardyce was its funding of frequently cash-strapped grassroots football clubs. Although Allardyce is concerned primarily with its football division, the company creates customised gambling sites at individual sports clubs of all sizes, with 20% of the bookmaker’s net revenues returned to the team and often invested in kit and equipment.
In December Allardyce said: “My Club is a great initiative. Sport in Britain is badly underfunded and I am committed to helping support grassroots sports. It is a model that works from the smallest of sports clubs to the largest, so I’m more than pleased to be adding my support to such ingenious initiatives.”
Enthusiastic advocates of the benefits of My Club Betting abound in the grassroots football community but many people will be uncomfortable about the idea of the England manager profiting from his association with a company that promotes gambling. There is also the wider issue of whether the highly paid national coach should be permitted to indulge in any commercial activities while in post.
The FA said on Friday: “The England manager’s commercial commitments will be discussed in due course.”
With a World Cup qualification campaign to be launched in September, Allardyce’s arrangements are not, however, believed to be high-priority concerns at the ruling body.
As recently as April the then Sunderland manager offered passionate endorsements of My Club Betting, even suggesting the new initiative might help to identify the next Jamie Vardy.
“You can’t help but think that some good English players like Jamie Vardy are slipping through the net, in part because of the lack of effective funding for sport,” Allardyce said. “It is becoming increasingly expensive to fund local football and leagues are folding, which is terribly sad. It is not necessarily a lack of interest, but the costs of playing are greater than ever. We have to find more effective ways of funding sport and give grassroots football, and other sports, the opportunity to flourish.”
Controversy has emerged over the commercial activities of England managers in the past. Fabio Capello’s launch of the Capello Index before the 2010 World Cup finals is the most notable example, although the Italian claimed not to have received any payment. Sven‑Goran Eriksson was involved in endorsements and promotions including classical music CDs and computer games.
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