London: The football agent who set up the meeting that led to Sam Allardyce losing his job as England manager has labelled the decision to sack him “a joke”.
Scott McGarvey, a long-standing friend of Allardyce, said Thursday he felt “devastated” to have set in motion a train of events that led to the former Bolton, Newcastle, West Ham and Sunderland boss being sacked by the Football Association after just one game in charge of England.
Allardyce, 61, was sacked following the publication by the Daily Telegraph last month of controversial comments made to undercover reporters.
He was secretly filmed giving advice on how to circumnavigate transfer rules and mocking England predecessor Roy Hodgson.
Appointed England manager on a euros 3 million-a-year contract (Dh12.16 million) $3.9 million), Allardyce also agreed to travel to Singapore and Hong Kong as an ambassador for their fictitious firm for a fee of 400,000 euros.
Allardyce attended the meeting in a London hotel at the instigation of McGarvey.
“I’m devastated for him [Allardyce],” McGarvey told Sky Sports. I can’t think of anything worse that could have happened.
“He’s got to feel I’m responsible because I’m the one who’s brought him to the meeting, but he’s only come for me.
“He’s never once spoken about money. He’s never once said anything about money. It was only, ‘Are you okay, lad? I’ll help you’.”
McGarvey insisted he had no knowledge either he or Allardyce were being set-up in a newspaper ‘sting’ until long after the meeting.
“Do I think he holds me responsible? I think he’s known me for a long, long time. He knows that I’d never do that to him or to anybody in football,” McGarvey said.
“I can understand if he doesn’t speak to me again. I need to respect that, but I hope not because we go back a long way.
“It might take a bit of time because I know how hurt he is at losing the England job.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re the manager of Crewe and you lose your job but if you’re the manager of England and you lose your job after one game, it’s a joke.”
McGarvey insisted he no idea until long after the meeting that he and Allardyce had been on the receiving end of a ‘sting’.
“Absolutely. One hundred per cent,” he said. “This is not Monday to Friday. This is 13 weeks of dozens of emails, hundreds of texts, hundreds of calls and bringing more than seven or eight innocent people into this story.
“He (Allardyce) only came for me. A hundred per cent for me. When I told him I had this opportunity. I phoned him up and said I had the chance of getting this job and it looked very good and they were looking for someone to do motivational speaking.
“The key to this is, I spoke to Sam when he was Sunderland manager, he wasn’t the England manager.”
Allardyce was replaced by Gareth Southgate, with the Under-21 manager taking charge of the senior side for gour games on an interim basis.
Southgate’s first two World Cup qualifiers as manager saw England beat Malta 2-0 at Wembley before Tuesday’s goalless draw away to Slovenia.
The former England defender is now the favourite to take over from Allardyce on a permanent basis.