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City boss Warnock rejects claims by MP; The Bluebirds.

Byline: PHIL SMITH Football writer philip.smith@walesonline.co.uk

CARDIFF City boss Neil Warnock has rejected claims made in Parliament by MP Damian Collins.

The Conservative MP used Parliamentary privilege to repeat allegations made by Crystal Palace midfielder Jason Puncheon regarding Warnock's time as manager at Selhurst Park.

Puncheon subsequently apologised and was fined by the FA. Warnock said: "These allegations are completely and utterly false.

"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 PS15,000 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."

A group of MPs earlier heard how Puncheon claimed Warnock made players pay him in return for selection in his team.

Directing questions to the FA's head of strategy, Robert Sullivan, and FA chairman Greg Clarke, Mr Collins said: "In January 2014 it was reported that Jason Puncheon the Crystal Palace player made allegations on Twitter regarding Neil Warnock - his former manager.

"The tweets have been deleted but they are available online and I'll read out the relevant bit. He said, 'What I won't accept is an opinion from a man who's crooked and ruining the game. The man who signs players, gives them extra wages and appearance bonuses to make sure they pay him to get into the team or on the bench. The fact that he can even talk about training is shocking. He was never there.'" Mr Collins went on to question Mr Clarke and Mr Sullivan: "Did anyone speak to him [Puncheon] to follow up on the quite serious allegations that he made?" Mr Sullivan responded: "I am not party to the operational conversation between him and the investigations team. So I do not know that."

Mr Collins then said: "I'd be interested to know, I think it would be pretty poor, it would be another example of where someone has gone public and made an allegation, in this case about Neil Warnock.

"You'd think if the FA has got this inhouse resource of former police officers who could investigate these things, what they would do is they would probably have a conversation with this player and say, 'Why have you made this allegation? Privately, can you explain your position to us?'" Mr Sullivan responded: "That's absolutely correct. I think where the line is difficult to draw is bringing forward real evidence that can actually be used to take an investigation forward. Because there are comments that are made on social media and there is actual hard evidence that investigations team can actually use to bring forward a case."

And although the Puncheon allegations resurfacing yesterday made life off the field more challenging for the Cardiff City manager, Friday's 2-1 win against Bristol City brought praise from an unlikey source, with former Swansea boss Kenny Jackett revealing he believes Warnock is the ideal manager for the Bluebirds.

Former Swansea manager Jackett, who led the Swans to promotion from League Two in 2005 and won the Football League Trophy in the following season, said on 'Football on 5: The Championship' that he expected Cardiff to build on their impressive win on Warnock's debut in the Cardiff City Stadium hot-seat.

Former Wales international Jackett said: "It was a great start for him. To get the opening goal with the penalty decision was a big one because it started off as a tight game.

"It was a great start for Neil Warnock and there's a very experienced group of players there and I'm sure they'll build on that."

Warnock has won a remarkable seven promotions during a managerial career than spans more than 35 years.

And Jackett believes Warnock will get the best out of the Cardiff squad after they made such a disastrous start to the season under Paul Trollope.

"He knows what he wants, he knows how he wants to play - he's very clear on that and I think that's a strength," added Jackett.

"He's very experienced and knows the division inside out. He knows the players and he has the ability to get the best out of them."

Victory in the Severnside derby lifted the Bluebirds out of the Championship's relegation zone - with highflying Sheffield Wednesday being Warnock's next opponents at the Cardiff City Stadium tomorrow night.

CAPTION(S):

Neil Warnock, congratulating Craig Noone after Cardiff's win against Bristol City, Jason Puncheon (inset below) was fined PS15,000 by the FA and had apologised for making claims against him in 2014
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Oct 18, 2016
Words:824
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