Gary Neville has reacted with outrage at reports that sacked England manager Sam Allardyce was paid a £1 million severance deal.
Allardyce left his job in charge of the national team after being caught in a newspaper sting setting himself up with a £400,000 public speaking deal.
No official word has been released by the FA about the terms of Allardyce’s exit, which was reported to the public as a “mutual” decision – but several reports claim that it hit the £1m figure. That deal means he was paid, as the Daily Mail helpfully calculates, £15,000 a day.
And Neville, who was assistant manager under Allardyce’s predecessor Hodgson, slated the decision to pay off Big Sam.
“I don’t understand the ‘mutual’ aspect of Sam’s departure,” Neville said in his Sky podcast.
“He was sacked in my mind because there was no way Sam Allardyce would have walked in and handed his resignation in, everybody knows that.
“The question that needs asking more than anything is that the FA cited ‘inappropriate behaviour’, yet reports suggest there has been a payoff of a £1m. You have to ask why, if it was inappropriate behaviour?
“When you are setting the bar of moral standards, which is what the new regime are doing, that’s fine, nobody can disagree with it, but moving that forward is going to be interesting…
“This is a moral sacking, and when you take the moral exit route, particularly when you’re talking about the national game, you have to see it through… It will be interesting in the future when there are incidents like player or staff misdemeanour whether they follow through with the same actions, and that is sometimes difficult to do.”
Needless to say, many will (quite rightly) look at these words from Neville and consider the fact that Allardyce was caught on camera criticising Neville and Hodgson – and in particular the manner in which Neville seemed to treat Hodgson at Euro 2016.
“They were arguing for 10 minutes about bringing him on, him and Gary Neville,” Allardyce said. “So Gary was the wrong influence for him. F***ing tell Gary to sit down and shut up, so you can do what you want. You’re the manager, you do what you want, not what anyone else wants.”
If the England manager did indeed get paid off, is that unfair? While he acted in a foolish manner, it’s pretty clear that Allardyce did not break any FA rules with what he said or did, and even insisted at one point that he’d have to run things past his paymasters at the FA.
Neville is right: this was a moral sacking. Even with the thorny issue of comments about third party ownership of players, the problem isn’t the idea of a manager helping investors negotiate those waters, it’s just that it feels wrong when the England manager is the one acting as the guide.
And unless Allardyce’s contract contained some sort of catch-all clause to allow sacking in any circumstances where the reputation of the FA was damaged, it’s hard to see why he wouldn’t be entitled to some sort of compensation. After all, Allardyce made a stupid mistake, and a colossal error of judgement – but he didn’t actually do anything wrong.