Former Barnsley FC Assistant Head Coach and two corrupt football agents sentenced for bribery

|News, Fraud and economic crime

A former Assistant Head Coach of Barnsley FC and two corrupt football agents have today been sentenced for bribery after a journalistic expose into corruption in English football.

An undercover journalist from The Daily Telegraph investigating allegations of bribery and corruption pretended to be a representative from a fictitious sports management company and met with established football agents Giuseppe Pagliara, 63, and Dax Price, 48.

From the outset, Price and Pagliara openly discussed corruption in football and their role in it, making it clear they had no issue with going against the strict Football Association regulations.

The agents suggested various schemes including bribing players to become their agents, and ways for the sports management company to go against the ban on third party ownership for profit.

The pair introduced the journalist to former Barnsley Football Club Assistant Head Coach Tommy Wright, 53, encouraging the reporter to pay Wright for his part in their illegal schemes.

Wright received an initial bribe of £5,000 in return for revealing sensitive information about Barnsley FC’s players and encouraged some of the players to appoint Price and Pagliara as their agents.

Jessica Walker of the CPS said: “These men understood the strict regulations that are in place to prevent corruption in football, yet still used bribery to influence what should be a fair process.”

Building the case

Fundamental to the prosecution case was the wealth of evidence that The Daily Telegraph had collected over the numerous meetings the journalist had with Wright, Pagliara and Price.

The audio recordings of these meetings and notes were able to show that Pagliara and Price were not just complicit with the corruption suspected in football, but actively attempting to get around the Football Association’s regulations prohibiting third-party ownership.

In one meeting, Price assured the journalist that he knew the people in English clubs who needed ‘looking after.’

Although Wright protested he had thought the money was a legitimate payment for his consultancy, it was clear from the recorded conversations and the information Wright provided to Pagliara and Price, that he was aware what he was doing was illicit.

Jessica Walker continued: “Despite the trio’s protestations of innocence, we were able to show that they knew their actions were breaking the law. It is thanks to the evidence gathered by The Daily Telegraph and the City of London police through their investigation that we could show beyond doubt these men were guilty of bribery.”

In September 2016 The Telegraph published the evidence they had uncovered and a criminal investigation was launched.

Following a nine-week trial at Southwark Crown Court, Wright was found guilty of two counts of accepting or soliciting a bribe and Pagliara and Price were found guilty of two counts of paying and facilitating a bribe.

Notes to editors

  • Jessica Walker is a Unit Head in the Specialist Fraud Division at the CPS
  • Tommy Wright (10/01/1966) was found guilty of two counts of requesting, agreeing to receive or accepting a financial advantage or o ther advantage, contrary to section 2 of the Bribery Act 2010 and has been sentenced to 12 months in prison suspended for 12 months, as well as repaying £5,000 to The Telegraph within 28 days and £3,000 in costs.
  • Dax Price (18/02/1971) was found guilty of two counts of offering, promising or giving a financial or other advantage to another person, contrary to section 1 of the Bribery Act 2010 and has been sentenced to 18 months in prison suspended for 18 months, as well as 250 hours of unpaid work.
  • Giuseppe Pagliara (05/09/1955) was found guilty of two counts of offering, promising or giving a financial or other advantage to another person, contrary to section 1 of the Bribery Act 2010. He has been sentenced to 2 years in prison suspended for 2 years, as well as 300 hours of unpaid work.

Further reading