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Football: SAM'S TARNISHED; EXCLUSIVE CURSE OF THE BUNGS Allardyce told: Slur followed me.. you'll suffer too 'People in the street will yell at him: Have you had a bung today?' SAYS JOHN GREGORY WHO'S SPENT NEARLY FOUR YEARS FIGHTING FOR HIS REPUTATION.

Byline: John CROSS

SAM ALLARDYCE was last night warned that the rest of his managerial career will be lived under a cloud of "suspicion" as "the football world has al ready hung him" even if he is innocent of all bung allegations.

Former Aston Villa boss John Gregory was the last high-profile Premiership manager before Allardyce to be caught up in a bung investigation and it still haunts him even though the Football Association took no action against him.

Bolton boss Allardyce is now fighting to clear his name in the wake of the BBC's Panorama show which branded him a serial bung taker after an investigation into him and his ex-agent son Craig.

Allardyce yesterday furiously denied ever taking a back-hander from a transfer even though football agent Peter Harrison was filmed by the BBC claiming that money was syphoned to the Bolton boss via his son.

But Gregory, who yesterday took charge at Championship strugglers QPR after Gary Waddock was demoted to first team coach, admitted that Allardyce will now need all of the support from his friends and family for the bitter fight to clear his name - but says some fans will never forget.

Gregory was investigated by the FA in December 2002 after Villa asked them to step in to probe the foreign transfers of Bosko Balaban, Juan Pablo Angel and Alpay but he was never charged or found guilty of any offence.

But Gregory admits he has lived under the shadow ever since and says he was given the "cold shoulder" by football after at one time being a contender for the England job.

Gregory said: "I imagine one or two of the people involved have already been hanged this morning by the majority of the football public.

"Sam will need his family and all his pals to gather round him and look after him and keep him smiling. He's big enough to overcome it and he'll cope with it.

"You stand up there and get the accolades from time to time and occasionally, when the s**t starts to fly, you can't duck the issue

"It's a bit unfair being cold-shouldered by most of the football world when five years ago they were queuing up and supposedly I was going to get the England job.

"The papers all wrote stories about me and it was all supposition, and nothing concrete - no facts, nothing. But you just deal with it. You have to live with it.

"But our first away match with QPR I will walk to the bench and someone will shout out: 'Had a bung today?' or whatever. It's pathetic, so you get on with it.

"It's sad that Sam is all over the newspapers this morning because he is an outstanding manager, exceptionally good at his job and one of the top coaches in this country.

"Harry Redknapp is too because Portsmouth are top of the league. I just hope they are strong enough to overcome all these accusations and the innuendo aimed at them. I am sure they are. They put up with a lot."

Gregory was at Port Vale on Tuesday watching over his new club QPR but admitted that, as a person so deeply hurt by innuendo in the past, he rushed home to watch the Panorama show which he had taped with great interest. But Gregory branded the allegations as "rubbish" and Portsmouth boss Redknapp - the other manager accused - was also left furious by the Panorama show.

Gregory says the Premiership is clean of corruption and believes the FA will not take any action. He added: "I thought it was an absolute load of rubbish. There was so much hype surrounding the programme but there were no facts.

"Harry Redknapp was in all the trailers: bungs, here, there and everywhere and all illegal. But the only contribution Harry made to the programme was that an agent asked Harry if he liked Andy Todd, to which he said: 'Yeah, I like Andy Todd'.

"How they can associate Harry Redknapp with bungs after a programme like that is beyond me. I thought it was an absolute waste of the licence fee, I really did.

"With Sam Allardyce, he never even spoke on the programme. He wasn't in any of the undercover operations, he wasn't caught on camera talking about anything he shouldn't have done. It is all innuendo.

"What are they going to do to Sam? The FA will go round to his house and have a look underneath his mattress and say 'Oh no, there's nothing there. Sorry Sam, sorry to bother you,' and go back - end of story.

"I think the game is clean. You can't walk down the street now without being filmed. I can't say I have ever come across anything like that at all, from other people or other managers.

"But there was one person in particular who was spreading allegations and accusations about me at a particular time, and I am sure that deterred quite a few chairmen from taking me on.

"A lot of people were put off like that but what can you do? I don't have to justify myself to anybody, so I don't."

CAPTION(S):

THE JOB'S YOURS: John Gregory with QPR chairman Gianni Paladini' UNDER SIEGE: Bolton manager Sam Allardyce faces the press outside his home yesterday
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Sep 21, 2006
Words:888
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