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Football: 'Sweeteners' not confined to football.

Byline: LORRAINE ROGERS

MIKE NEWELL has taken a brave stand with his claims that 'illegal' payments are rife in football.

Of course all of this talk about 'sweeteners' brings out the righteous side of many commentators. Clearly, what Mike's suggesting is going on isn't right.

In an ideal world it would be stopped but let's not kid ourselves that it doesn't happen in any walk of life where there's competition for a commodity. 'Sweeteners' oil the wheels in most industries, so why the outcry if they're also in football?

Well, I guess the suggestion offends people because we care more about football than any other industry. Football fascinates people. We don't like to think of high-profile people in the game caring less about it than we do. Supporters don't like to think of money seeping out of the game.

Mike has pointed the finger at managers and agents and his allegations have grabbed the headlines but week in, week out there are hundreds - perhaps thousands - of small incidents that damage clubs and go unreported in the media. In total, these incidents cost clubs thousands of pounds. At some clubs there will be gatemen or programme sellers on the fiddle or supporters who should pay full price trying to get tickets at concessionary prices or climbing in over walls to avoid paying at all, etc.

I know supporters who claim to care about Tranmere but frequently try to blag complimentary tickets or press passes rather than pay for a ticket. In some ways, they're as bad as the managers and agents Mike Newell was referring to.

Week in, week out there are hundreds of small incidents that damage clubs and go unreported in the media

CAPTION(S):

Luton Town manager Mike Newell arrives at FA headquarters yesterday after being summoned to Soho Square following his recent comments over 'bungs' in football
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Jan 19, 2006
Words:310
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