He had not yet taken charge of his first international match, or even his first training session, but already another pressing matter was on Sam Allardyce’s agenda: how to make as much money as possible from his new status as England manager.
The job comes with a salary of £3 million per year, plus bonuses, but as Allardyce sat down to a meeting in a May Fair hotel he was eager to explore ways of earning even more.
On the table was an offer for Allardyce to fly to Singapore and Hong Kong four times a year to address investors in a Far East firm that wanted to buy football players. Allardyce, 61, was unperturbed by the fact that the firm – in reality a fictitious company whose representatives were undercover Telegraph reporters – was proposing third party ownership of players, in contravention of Football Association and Fifa rules.
During the meeting he remarked that Sir Alex Ferguson gets “four hundred, five hundred grand a pop” for speaking engagements, while Robbie Williams got “£1.6 million for a wedding. Just singing”.
Less than 20 minutes into the meeting with total strangers, Allardyce had agreed, in principle, to a £400,000-a-year deal to represent a company he had never heard of. The England manager insisted he would deliver “value for money” in helping to attract investors, boasting of his popularity in the Orient.