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FA chairman Greg Clarke quizzed by MPs over Neil Warnock allegations

FA chairman Greg Clarke quizzed by MPs over Neil Warnock allegations
By PA Sport

18/10/2016 at 07:41Updated 18/10/2016 at 07:52

Football manager Neil Warnock made players pay to be selected for games, a committee of MPs heard.

Football manager Neil Warnock made players pay to be selected for games, a committee of MPs heard.

The allegation came from tweets from Crystal Palace midfielder Jason Puncheon in 2014 on Twitter, which were quickly deleted.

Puncheon also alleged that Warnock was "crooked" and was "ruining the game".

Puncheon's claims, which have been denied by Warnock, were repeated in Westminster on Monday by Damian Collins, the chairman-elect of the Culture, Media and Sport Committee.

Collins, the Conservative MP for Folkstone and Hythe, was questioning Football Association chairman Greg Clarke about the governing body's attempts to investigate possible wrongdoing in the game and cited Puncheon's outburst as an example of an allegation that was not pursued.

Warnock, however, says the allegations were looked at and has issued a strong denial.

"These allegations are completely and utterly false," the 67-year-old, now Cardiff manager, said in a statement.

"The FA Commission considered all of the evidence in detail in 2014 and it found that the allegations which were published about me were unfounded. Any suggestion that the FA failed to investigate this matter is simply untrue.

"In fact, Mr Puncheon apologised to me and removed the allegations from his Twitter account. The FA fined him £15,000 and he was warned as to his future conduct.

"I am disappointed that these allegations have been repeated after Mr Puncheon's apology and after the FA investigated fully. If anyone had asked me the truth before publication, I would have pointed them to the FA website, where the facts are all easily accessible."

Puncheon's fine came about for bringing the game into disrepute.

But using parliamentary privilege, which gives MPs and witnesses protection for libel laws, Collins said: "The tweets have been deleted but for the benefit of the committee they are still available online, although they're not on his Twitter account.

"(Puncheon) said: 'What I won't accept is an opinion from a man who's crooked and ruining the game.

"'Neil Warnock, the man who signs players, gives them extra wages and appearance bonuses to make sure that they pay him to get into the team or on the bench.

"'The fact he could even talk about training is shocking, he was never there."'

Puncheon was reacting to a comment Warnock, who has managed 15 different clubs in a 37-year career, made as a pundit when the Palace player missed a penalty in a 2-0 defeat by Spurs.

Clarke, who has only been FA chairman for five weeks, told Collins he did not know if the FA investigated Puncheon's claims about Warnock but suggested it certainly should have done so.

"I think it would be pretty poor if someone has gone public and they don't have any contact from the FA asking why have they made this allegation," said Clarke.

Robert Sullivan, the FA's director of strategy, was sitting alongside Clarke and he said: "Where the line is difficult to draw is bringing forward real evidence that can actually be used to take an investigation forward.

"There are comments made on social media and there is actual hard evidence that the investigators can actually use to bring forward a case and a charge."

Clarke explained that this was a common problem for the FA's 33-strong team of compliance officers and investigators, and denied the failure to successfully prosecute charges was a result of any lack of interest in tackling corruption.

"T here's a surfeit of people who say Fred or Mary is a villain. You then talk to Fred or Mary and they deny it and there's no third-party corroboration, no paper trail.

"So we focus on the cases where we can find that evidence."