Rob Minto

Sport, data, ideas

Month: September 2016

Sport Geek #53: in defence of Allardyce


Did Big Sam have to lose his job?

When (now former) England manager Sam Allardyce was caught on camera in a Telegraph sting talking about how to get round third-party ownership, dissing the FA, asking for £400k for a speaking gig, and being a bit rude about Roy Hodgson and Gary Neville, it was always going to be curtains. The England job is too big, too heavily scrutinised at every step, for him to stay on.

Really though, nothing individually on the rap sheet was bad enough. Yes, it was cruel to mock Roy. Gary Neville? Who cares. He said Wembley was a bit to expensive, which most would say is fair comment.

Now for the heavier stuff. A series of speaking events in Asia for 6-figure sums? He said he would ask the FA, keeping it above board. Should England managers be doing that? Probably not, given the £3m salary, but if it’s OK, it’s OK, and if it’s not, it’s not. It’s up to the employer. It’s hardly as if the England manager is a day-in-day-out job anyway. All sorts of people, from writers to bankers, do extra-curricular speaking events. It looks a little greedy, but it’s hardly illegal. It’s just a question of priorities and contracts.

What about third-party ownership of players? Dig into the transcript. Allardyce never at any stage is endorsing the practice. He’s highlighting what others do, and that might be a bit unwise, but he’s not actually giving advice. If someone asks you where people buy drugs, it’s not illegal to point them in the right direction. He’s had a drink and is showing off a bit, knowing what goes on. Everyone likes to think they are on the inside and can lift the lid. It’s human nature.

In fact, later on, he has a proper freak out about player bungs, saying “Oh, oh, you’re not, do not, I haven’t heard that… I haven’t heard that, you stupid man… You can have that conversation when I’m not here… You can’t do it now, you can’t do it now, don’t ever go there.” Sound like a man on the take? No. He is cross to even hear suggestion of dodgy dealings.

Overall, there’s nothing here that means he should lose his job. Nothing. As he says, entrapment won.  Given the mixed feelings about his appointment (no major trophies, pragmatic style), he had so much to prove. It’s a pity he didn’t get a chance to have a crack at one tournament.

And so to the rest… Continue reading

Sport Geek #52: Kaepernick, TUEs, and when 9th is podium

I’m writing this with a broken arm, so it’s taking twice as long. Hopefully it’s not half as good. Anyway.

Here are the things you should be reading about in the wonderful world of sport.


Colin Kaepernick’s quiet protest is starting something very big. One day he will be seen as a hero.

Meanwhile, here’s an insight into the insecure life of an NFL practice squad player.


When ninth still wins an Olympic medal, you know the drug problem in sport is bad.

Para quicker: how did four visually impaired runners beat the Olympic gold time in the 1500m final?

Why is Ukraine so good at the Paralympics?


What happened when a journalist became a tennis coach?

The new tennis stars are still veterans. Whatever happened to youth?

Why Serena Williams’s backhand is so different.


Are TUEs just legal doping? And who are the fancy bears anyway?


A timely reminder from Marina Hyde that the clown show that is Fifa / Uefa rolls inexorably forward. 

That’s it from the recovery room.


Sport Geek #51: where did it all go wrong?

Back to school, back to work. Let’s crack on.


Nicklas Bendtner, a tale of how to get it all wrong. (Vice)

How on earth do you rebuild a completely corrupt organisation? The Guardian looks at Concacaf.


Pakistan are the top Test side in the world, and that is an incredible thing, says the Economist.


What’s the swimming equivalent of a level playing field? The pool was a bit, well, current-y. (WashPo)

Did the IOC Rio gamble work? And how did Team GB do so well? (BBC)

What happens to the venues now? (Vox)

Bolt’s perfect goodbye. (Guardian)


Good news: apparently, we are nowhere near the limits of athletic performance. (Nautilus)


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