Roy Keane has urged football not to forget what has made it great as the authorities tackle the ongoing corruption investigation.
England manager Sam Allardyce is so far the highest profile casualty of the Daily Telegraph’s undercover probe, which has prompted a quest for answers by the game’s chiefs.
However, Republic of Ireland assistant boss Keane, who played with such distinction for Nottingham Forest and Manchester United before managing Sunderland and Ipswich, insists there is more good than bad in English football.
He said: “We have said it before, there will be greed involved when there is so much money involved. But having said that, it’s still a great game.
“There are some brilliant people involved in football and it shouldn’t be tarnished as badly as it has been in the last week or so.
“A lot of this is still accusations, allegations against people. But football is a great game and there are great people involved in it. There are a lot of great managers out there, great players who do great things for the game.
“Why do you think so many people watch the game? They love it. Every now and again, there will be a hiccup along the way, but let’s not get distracted by it.
“There are some brilliant football clubs out there – I have been lucky to have been involved in a few of them and again, let’s not get distracted.
“Every now and again a story like this will come up. But let’s remember what the game is all about. It’s the greatest game on the planet and we all love it.
“I’m not saying we brush it under the carpet, but let the clubs and the FA deal with it, whatever is going on. It goes on in other industries, you know.”
Keane’s comments came as he and Ireland manager Martin O’Neill prepared their players for World Cup qualifiers against Georgia and Moldova having finally put pen to paper on the new contracts they agreed back in June.
The pair insisted all along that there was nothing sinister in the delay, but while the documents remained unsigned, speculation continued that one or both could be tempted away by the offer of a return to club management.
Despite enjoying his current role, Keane for one remains open to that possibility, although he was coy when asked what kind of opportunity could persuade him.
He said: “It all depends, it depends on the club. When I stopped playing, I didn’t think I was going to go into management, but then a brilliant club like Sunderland came calling.
“It’s all ifs and ands. It depends who comes calling – Real Madrid, Barcelona, Altrincham, Barnet…
“It’s not in my mindset. I’m not one for networking, I don’t have an agent, I don’t apply for jobs and I never have. Maybe I never will do, but that might change in a few years – who knows?
“I’m committed to the job with Ireland and my mindset is to try get maximum points this week and win on Thursday night. Talking about other jobs is irrelevant.”
Midfielder Harry Arter is likely to join a lengthy list of absentees for Thursday’s clash with the Georgians in Dublin after undergoing a scan on a groin problem, and the pool of players available to O’Neill has dwindled since he named his squad.
However, it could be boosted in future by the addition of in-form Salford-born Brentford striker Scott Hogan, who qualifies for the Republic through three of his grandparents.
Keane said: “The manager has touched base with the player and I think he is due to try meet up in the next few weeks. The manager is looking after that and it would be great to get him involved.
“He looks a really good player, a proper goalscorer. Please God, he would like to come on board with us because I think we would be good for him as well.”