A FORMER assistant manager of Barnsley Football Club accepted a £5,000 bung from a newspaper reporter as part of an investigation which brought about the downfall of England boss Sam Allardyce, a jury was told this week.

Tommy Wright, 53, allegedly received the bribe after an undercover journalist set up a meeting with two agents during the Daily Telegraph’s ‘Football for Sale’ probe in 2016.

Wright, of Dark Lane, Barnsley, was the Reds’ assistant manager under then-head coach Paul Heckingbottom at the time of the investigation and now works at League Two side Swindon Town.

He faces two counts of accepting a bribe while football agents Giuseppe ‘Pino’ Pagliara, 64, and 48-year-old Dax Price are charged with two counts of offering to pay a bribe.

Brian O’Neill QC, prosecuting at Southwark Crown Court in London, said: “In September 2016 following an extensive investigation, the Daily Telegraph published a number of exposés of alleged corruption in English football.

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“The most high-profile casualty was Sam Allardyce, then-manager of the England national team, who resigned from his position shortly after.”

The newspaper gave the recordings of their meetings and calls with various people in football to the police to investigate, the jury was told.

“Tommy Wright was at the time the assistant head coach of Barnsley Football Club, until he was dismissed on September 29, 2016,” Mr O’Neill added.

“Claire Newell, a journalist posing as a businesswoman under the alias Claire Taylor, was conducting an undercover investigation into corruption and bribery in the game.

“She pretended that a fake company had been set up for the purposes of this investigation and wanted to invest in football players in the UK. As a consequence of that, Pagliara was keen to meet her.”

From their first meeting with her, Pagliara and Price revealed their ‘awareness of corrupt practices’ in the football transfer market and a ‘willingness to be involved’ in such activities.

In a series of further meetings, calls, emails and text messages, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) allege they proposed various schemes to become players’ agents, buy them and place them in English clubs, maintain ownership of the players and then profit from any onward sales.

Under the FA and FIFA’s regulations, no party other than the relevant club may hold any ownership interest in players registered to play for that club in England.

Pagliara and Price allegedly introduced Ms Taylor to Wright and, in August 2016, Ms Taylor handed the Barnsley coach an envelope containing £5,000 in front of the agents.

In return, the CPS claim Wright revealed commercial information about Barnsley FC’s players, encouraged players to appoint Price and Pagliara as their agents and ‘agreed to facilitate the placement of players at the club’.

Mr O’Neill added: “In various recordings which will be played for the jury in the course of the trial, there are numerous instances of the defendants, particularly Pagliari and Price, suggesting that various figures in English football are corrupt.

“It is not part of the prosecution’s case to malign those individuals, who were not present when those things were said and could not rebuke these allegations.

“However, it is significant in the case of the defendant who said those words, or any defendants who were present, did not distance himself from those words and that is because of that knowledge or belief of corruption in football in this country and elsewhere and his willingness not just to condone such practices but also to exploit them.”

The trial, which is expected to last for eight weeks, continues.