Arsene Wenger hopes Sam Allardyce can “clear his name” after he was part of secretly-filmed conversations which show the recently-appointed England manager making a variety of controversial comments to undercover reporters.
The 61-year-old faces a fight to keep the job he was appointed to just 68 days ago, having managed just one World Cup qualifier in Slovakia.
The Football Association is investigating the footage after Allardyce was secretly filmed by the Daily Telegraph’s investigations team during a 10-month probe, which the newspaper claims ”separately unearthed widespread evidence of bribery and corruption in British football”.
By midday The Times and Telegraph were reporting that Allardyce could face the sack later on Tuesday having been summoned to Wembley, where FA chairman Greg Clarke and chief executive Martin Glenn are said to be holding an emergency meeting.
The FA has refrained from making any official statement, but Press Association Sport understands such an outcome would not come as a big surprise to some in the England dressing room.
But Arsenal boss Wenger wants to see the former West Ham, Sunderland and Bolton manager defend his comments and has called for a measured response.
“I haven’t even read the story and I would not like to come out on that,” he said.
“It is too damageable and too heavy as a story, you have to let Sam Allardyce defend himself and I just hope he will clear his name.
“Nothing is proven. At the moment it is only suggestions. We have to be careful, we live in a society that is very quick to accuse people.
“Sam Allardyce as well, until they have done something wrong (they shouldn’t be treated as guilty).”
The video appears to show Allardyce making numerous controversial remarks about subjects varying from England players to circumventing regulations, as well as negotiating a £400,000 deal to address investors in a Far East firm, albeit saying he would ”have to run it past the powers that be” before committing to a deal.
The England manager was also captured appearing to tell a fictitious businessman how to circumvent third-party ownership laws, saying it was ”not a problem” to get around FA rules which stop third parties ”owning” football players’ economic rights.
Wenger has long-been set against any sort of third-party ownership of players and hailed the FA’s strict approach to transfer dealings.
“Third-party ownership should not be allowed,” he said.
“I have fought against it a long long time, a club should own 100 per cent of their players. I made about 300 transfers and every transfer is a story, even if it is renewing a contract it is a story.
“Transfers are well-controlled, they go through the federation, the payment of the agent is all clear, we have to declare everything we do. What the agents do with the money I don’t know, what I can say is England has made a huge effort to be clear in every single transfer.”
Wenger said Arsenal fans can sleep easy as he has a clear conscience over his many transfer dealings at the club he has been in charge of for almost two decades.
“You want the truth to always to come out,” he added.
“Our fans can sleep without any problems, that is all I can say. For the rest I don’t know what will come out or who is involved in it, I just care about our own transfers. I have not been approached by anybody.
“When I work for my club I commit 100 per cent to make every right decision for the good of my club. We are not too moralistic we want everyone to work generally for his club, that is normal and the pressure is on everyone to do that in the right way.”