Access exclusive podcasts, interviews and analysis with a monthly or annual membership

Become A Member
Dublin: 6°C Thursday 25 February 2021

How to buy a club: what did last night's Dispatches programme allege?

Bryan Robson is in the firing line after last night’s revelations on Channel 4. But did he do very much?

Image: Dispatches via channel 4

FORMER ENGLAND AND Manchester United skipper Bryan Robson woke up this morning with plenty of questions to answer.

The Old Trafford legend was caught up in a TV sting by Channel 4′s Dispatches programme, How To Buy A Football Club, which aired last night.

England’s FA today said they’d look for further analysis of the documentary’s contents. So what did the film reveal or allege?

  • Undercover reporters from the programme, posing as a consortium of Indian businessmen, were offered the chance to invest in a Football League club by a group of intermediaries in Bangkok.
  • Crucially, the programme makers say that when their reporters expressed an interest in buying a second club – which would breach football’s rules – the businessmen offered to set up a front organisation to work around the regulations.
  • Then Thailand’s national coach, Robson was also acting as an advisor to the intermediaries, London Nominees Football Fund. They described themselves as a group ‘investing in football clubs, players, franchises, merchandising and sponsorship in this outstanding growth industry’.
  • Robson, who is also a Manchester United’s global ambassador, met the undercover team alongside Joe Sim in the Man U cafe in the Thai capital.
  • The former England skipper said that friends of his like Alex McLeish, Roy Keane, Kenny Dalglish and Mark Hughes would be contacted for help in the search for loan players. He advised the ‘buyer’ that Sheffield Wednesday was a good prospect.  ‘If you want big money, Sheffield Wednesday is the one to do it with. It could be a really big club. Loan deals are the key. If you can get really good players from the Premier League to come down, then that’s your best route.’
  • Sim spoke to the Channel 4 reporter by phone while having dinner with Alex Ferguson in Manchester, passing the mobile to the United manager.
  • He said that Fergie sometimes advised him which teams he should bet on ‘for fun’ – Ferguson denied that.

Robson’s former team-mate Roy Keane and manager Alex Ferguson.

  • Sim said that Ferguson would retire in ‘three years’.  The manager issued a statement to programme makers reading: ‘It would be fair to say he (Fergie) does not see their relationship in the same close way that Mr Sim appears to have represented it.
  • Football League chairman Greg Clarke said his organisation finds it ‘difficult’ to have certainty over who ultimately owns their member clubs.

What did you think of the programme? You can watch it here>

The Departures Lounge: your daily lunchtime transfer round-up>

Rough justice: Player behind backheel penalty facing a ban?

About the author:

Read next: