Barnsley sack Wright over controversy

Barnsley have terminated the contract of assistant head coach Tommy Wright with immediate effect following newspaper allegations of corruption.

Wright’s departure follows an investigation by the club after The Daily Telegraph claimed to have video footage of Wright accepting a payment it says was offered after the assistant manager agreed to help a fake agents’ firm recruit players.

A spokesman for Wright told the Telegraph he denies any “acts contrary to criminal law or those of the FA and FIFA”, but after a meeting between Wright and the club, Barnsley have decided to act.

A statement on the club’s official website read: “A meeting between the club and Mr Wright was held this morning attended by club chief executive Linton Brown.

“After considering Mr Wright’s response to allegations in today’s Daily Telegraph about breaching FA rules over player transfers, Mr Wright was dismissed.

“The club was unaware of such matters or involved in any wrongdoing. The club will continue to fully investigate the issues at hand and will co-operate with the regulatory authorities as necessary.”

The Telegraph claimed Wright held three separate meetings with a Telegraph reporter posing as a representative of the fake Far East company, disgraced former football agent Pino Pagliara and licensed agent Dax Price, who were acting as the firm’s consultants.

Pagliara was banned by the Italian Football Association in 2005 for his part in the Serie A match-fixing scandal.

The video appears to show Wright accepting £5,000 cash at a second meeting in return for helping to persuade Barnsley to sign players who are part-owned by the firm.

Wright meeting with the undercover reporter.
Wright meeting with the undercover reporter.

Wright is then alleged to have helped arrange another meeting at Oakwell with Barnsley chairman Patrick Cryne and head coach Paul Heckingbottom.

Both Cryne and Heckingbottom were unaware of Wright’s previous meetings, nor did they know at the time of Pagliara’s true identity as he had been introduced as a translator.

Cryne clearly expressed at that meeting the proposals to give the club cash to help buy players it could not afford in return for a share of any future transfer fee was in breach of Football Association and FIFA rules on third party ownership of players.

Barnsley had no further contact with the group and a further agreed payment of £5,000 by the firm to Wright was never made. There is no suggestion of any wrongdoing by Cryne or Heckingbottom.

Wright was appointed assistant head coach at Barnsley in February 2015 and following the departure of former head coach Lee Johnson the following February he remained as Heckingbottom’s number two.


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