Barnsley head coach Paul Heckingbottom said he and his players would “stay strong and focused” after the club suspended his assistant Tommy Wright over allegations of corruption.
The Sky Bet Championship club announced on Wednesday night that assistant head coach Wright had been suspended “pending an internal investigation” following allegations made by the Daily Telegraph that he took a £5,000 payment made by its undercover reporters, allegedly to help place players at Barnsley.
Video footage released by the Telegraph as part of its investigation into corruption in football appears to show Wright, 50, accepting the money during a series of meetings with a fake Far East
firm, in which he agreed to help sign players part-owned by the firm. Wright has denied any wrongdoing.
Heckingbottom, whose side take on Yorkshire rivals Leeds at Elland Road on Saturday, said he was under strict instruction not to talk about the allegations.
“I can’t talk about that,” Heckingbottom told a press conference at Oakwell on Thursday morning.
“You’ve all been briefed. You know (this press conference is) just about football.
“The club and myself will make a statement later because there’s still things ongoing.”
When asked when he was made aware of the allegations, Heckingbottom said: “I am just focusing on the football. We can speak about (Barnsley’s next match against) Leeds and things going forward.
“If not we can just finish (the press conference) because I’m under instruction just like everyone at the club that we have to do things properly. We have to speak about it at the right time and in the right way.
“Because it’s not nice for anyone.”
Wright’s suspension follows revelations that led to the departure of England boss Sam Allardyce, and a separate report alleging that eight managers with Premier League experience and two from the Championship had taken so-called ‘bungs’ in transfer deals.
Heckingbottom said he would be speaking with his players about the matter this morning before focusing on Saturday’s match.
“My focus this morning, is the players and the team,” he said.
“There’ll be a time for me to speak about it later on. At this moment in time, everything I’m doing is focused on the players and the team.
“Our job’s the pitch. There’ll maybe be other people having similar press conferences like this around the country, I don’t know.
“But we have to stay strong and focused. We’ve shown that we’re good at that.”
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.
Heckingbottom and Wright steered Barnsley away from relegation and to promotion via the League One play-off final in May in their caretaker roles before being appointed permanently in the summer.