A FORMER assistant manager of Barnsley Football Club who was found guilty of accepting a £5,000 bung from an undercover newspaper reporter to leak information about players has avoided jail.

Tommy Wright received the pay-off after the undercover journalist set up a meeting with two agents during the Daily Telegraph’s ‘Football For Sale’ probe in 2016, which also led to the downfall of England boss Sam Allardyce.

Wright, of Dark Lane, Barnsley, denied any wrongdoing but was convicted of two charges of receiving or accepting a bribe in contravention of the Bribery Act 2000 at Southwark Crown Court.

The 53-year-old was the Reds’ assistant manager under Paul Heckingbottom at the time of the investigation and now works at League Two side Swindon Town.

The jury had deliberated for just under 32 hours before returning their majority verdicts on Wright and football agent Dax Price, 48.

They previously convicted another football agent, Giuseppe ‘Pino’ Pagliara, 64, of two charges of offering or promising a bribe.

Pagliara and Price allegedly introduced the reporter to Wright and, in August 2016, handed the Barnsley coach an envelope containing cash in front of the agents.

In return, 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’.

He was given a 12-month prison term, which was suspended for 12 months, at a sentencing hearing at Southwark Crown Court in London last Friday.

He was also told to repay £5,000 to the newspaper within 28 days and £3,000 court costs.

Jessica Walker, from the Crown Prosecution Service’s fraud division, said: “These men understood the strict regulations that are in place to prevent corruption in football, yet still used bribery to influence what should be a fair process.

“Although Wright protested he had thought the money was a legitimate payment for his consultancy, it was clear from the recorded conversations and the information Wright provided to Pagliara and Price, that he was aware what he was doing was illicit.

“Despite the trio’s protestations of innocence, we were able to show that they knew their actions were breaking the law.

“It is thanks to the evidence gathered by the Daily Telegraph and the police through their investigation that we could show beyond doubt these men were guilty of bribery.”

Detective Constable Chris Glover, from the City of London Police’s fraud squad, the team contacted by the Daily Telegraph following the sting, added: “The three men were then charged with bribery offences in August 2018 after detectives reviewed more than a hundred hours of video and audio recordings made by undercover journalists.

“These showed all three men were involved in offering and taking bribes for the placing of players at Barnsley Football Club and additionally Wright supplied confidential information regarding the contracts of players already at the club.

“Pagliara, Price and Wright are corrupt individuals who abused their positions within the football industry for their own financial gain.

“This has been a long and complex investigation and we are pleased justice has now been done.

“Bribery and corruption are extremely serious offences and the police will continue to strive to bring those involved before the courts.

“We would like to thank the Telegraph, Football Association, Crown Prosecution Service and Barnsley Football Club for their assistance with this case.”