I'm sure football's administrators in this country are really grateful to Mike Newell's revelation that the 'bungs' culture is still thriving. Yeah, right.

Richard Scudamore of the Premier League and the Football Association's Brian Barwick said all the right things when Newell spoke out, but through gritted teeth.

They had to respond and the air was thick with platitudes - our door is always open, we need to root this out if it's true - but they wanted this disclosure like an alcoholic needs the pubs open all day.

On our side of the fence, we all had a good gossip about Newell's frankness when we met up for the various press conferences previewing the weekend, then on Saturday for our respective matches.

We shared information about transfers we knew to be dodgy and which agents are rogues - but we are as powerless as the various ruling bodies to stand up the allegations.

From our various vantage points, we know it goes on, but try proving it. The code of silence over 'bungs' in English football is as tight and significant as anything the Mafia used to demand. Keep your mouth shut, don't dob anyone else in it, or suffer the consequences.

Mike Newell must be commended for expressing his disgust at the millions of pounds that go out of the game every year, but he will probably end up shouting at the moon instead of initiating a breakthrough. The practice is too entrenched, the participants are too crafty, the trails never lead anywhere.

I wonder also if the Premier League and the FA really want the lid to be lifted, because the finger will be pointed at them for being dilatory and negligent.

The FA is always looking into serious matters, but nothing ever seems to emerge from their cumbersome and lengthy investigations. Someone influential and authoritative must have detailed knowledge but why does it never come to light?

My bet is that there'll be a flurry of cosmetic statements over the next week once Newell has offered his evidence, then a committee will be set up and the matter will be quietly buried.

In the build-up to the World Cup, more pressing matters will occupy the media's attention.

You may justifiably say that the media should be more determined to uncover evidence of corruption. A fair point. But any football reporter with the necessary news background will tell you how damnably difficult it's been to stand up these stories.

Nobody will go on the record and all we get are unattributable quotes, coupled with dire warnings if we name our sources.

George Graham wasn't nobbled in 1995 through hard investigative graft by the media or the desire of Arsenal to cleanse their club. Graham's sweetener of #425,000 from the Norwegian agent Rune Hauge for facilitating transfers to Highbury came to light by chance.

A biography of Hauge published in Norway contained the damning revelations from the mouth of the agent himself, who saw nothing wrong in offering the 'bung' to Graham.

If the football establishment really abhorred the 'bungs' culture then George Graham would never have been allowed to manage a club again. Also the Premier League would surely have leant on Sky Sports and requested they didn't employ Graham as a match summariser after he left Spurs.

Surely they'd be worried about the tarnishing of their precious product that makes them millions in worldwide TV coverage?

The fact that no obstacle was placed in Graham's way was a tacit admission from all parties that he was unlucky to be caught out. As Newell rightly said last week: "If George was the only person guilty of taking a bung, I would be absolutely amazed."

Graham took the fall for many others and commendably has kept his own counsel and not snitched on others he knows were just as guilty.

After Brian Clough was accused in the High Court by Alan Sugar of liking a 'bung' it took five years for an FAappointed inquiry to report back. Their findings were inconclusive and with Clough in poor health, the FA decided not to act.

No-one admired Clough as a manager more than this columnist, but the torpor in gathering evidence was inexcusable. If they thought he was guilty, then the inquiry should have said so in a far shorter timespan than five years. But the FA fundamentally didn't want to open a can of worms.

A decade ago the Inland Revenue set up a special investigations unit in Solihull, with the aim of finding out the extent of backhanders sweeping through football. Several high-profile managers settled promptly with the unit, paying back money that had come their way during transfer dealings. Then the unit was disbanded. No one knows why. Confidential, old boy.

You may have noticed that the Sports Minister, Richard Caborn, often has something to say about our No 1 sport. Recently he protested about the late cancellation of Newcastle's home match against Charlton, as if that was within his remit.

Why doesn't he have some public observations about millions of pounds disappearing into a black hole, leading to the supporters being ripped off through matchday prices having to be raised?

It would also be instructive to hear from the League Managers' Association. At the very least, they should be pointing out that in many cases - especially in the Premiership - the financial aspects are no longer handled by the managers.

Chairmen and chief executives tend to deal directly with the agents and that's where the deals are cut. Surely the LMA wants to trumpet the innocence of their members and get the torch of investigation shone in other areas?

There are 285 Fifa-registered agents working in English football, so clearly there's enough dosh to spread around.

Why won't the FA consider why sons of chairmen and managers work for football agents? Don't those agents have an inside track?

Why were so many managers allowed to have shares in the Pro-Active Agency, the company that handles the affairs of, among others, Wayne Rooney? Surely a conflict of interest there.

Newell wants to know why agents get paid for bringing a player to a club. An estate agent doesn't get money from someone who buys a house, he gets paid by the seller.

Club chairmen sit on important committees at the FA and it is not in their interests to see 'bungs' investigations pursued with any real vigour. In some cases, they have sanctioned ridiculous amounts of money going to agents who have done little other than make a couple of phone calls and talk a player round.

Those administrators don't want us to find out anything more about the parasites whose successful dealings help make football more expensive than it ought to be. So Newell will be a martyr to the cause of straight dealings - admired in many quarters for his frankness and idealism but ultimately a thwarted whistleblower.

And he better become an even better manager than he is now. Otherwise, he'll be unemployable. Those chairmen dismayed and disconcerted at his honesty won't fancy giving Newell a job.

So if you care about football and want to see its stables washed out, then adopt Newell's Luton as your second club to support. He'll need as much backing as he can get.

Villa must move to keep Hendrie

Judging by Lee Hendrie's demeanour after Saturday's match against West Ham, he feels that time is running out on his career at Aston Villa. That would be a shame.

Now I accept that Hendrie hasn't helped himself in the past. Booting the ball into the Villa fans during a pre-season match at Walsall wasn't the smartest idea he's ever had.

Nor was getting sent off in another pre-season game at Tamworth last August, with the resultant suspension leaving him to stew in his juice at the start of the Premiership season.

Then there are the occasional scrapes in his rather colourful private life that have not impressed Villa managers past and present. But he's a better midfield player than Eirik Bakke, isn't he?

The worthy Bakke may be known to David O'Leary during their time together at Leeds, but Hendrie is more mobile, is more creative, scores some spectacular goals and - for all his ups and downs - demonstrably cares for Aston Villa.

Some Villa supporters mistakenly believe that Hendrie is forever tainted by his father Paul's playing association with Birmingham City.

But Hendrie has been connected with Villa for almost 20 years and made it clear on Saturday night that he doesn't want to leave.

But at his age - he is 29 in May, the same age as Bakke - he needs to be playing in the first team.

So Harry Redknapp's persuasive tongue and guarantee of regular first-team outings at Portsmouth must seem very attractive to a player who hhas started a match on just two occasions this season in the Premiership.

Steven Davis' rise and rise in Villa's midfield clearly hasn't helped Hendrie's prospects.

Hendrie is due a testimonial match in the summer but that's of no consequence with so much money available to a player these days in the top flight.

Martin Grainger, an outstanding servant to Birmingham City, only attracted around 4,000 spectators for his game recently, graced by a stack of big names.

The days are gone when a footballer hung around to pick up the proceeds from a testimonial game.

O'Leary says he wants Hendrie to stay. Many Villa supporters will concur. Hendrie's departure would mean only Luke Moore (left) of the first-team squad is a Brummie.

Call me old-fashioned, but I happen to think there's something appropriate about a local lad playing for the team he supported.

Euell to up pace at Blues

If Steve Bruce can land Jason Euell from Charlton Athletic this week, then Birmingham City might just start to fit the pieces into a satisfactory jigsaw.

Euell has the pace that Blues so desperately need, driving on from midfield, and he was Charlton's leading scorer for three successive seasons until a serious shoulder injury sidelined him a few months back.

Chris Sutton lacks pace but he can still be a solid target man, with Emile Heskey playing off him, using his speed and physical presence.

Those two aren't natural goalscorers but they can provide enough distraction for Euell to bomb forward. And Sutton's power in the air for near-post headers is an extra dimension that Blues have needed for some time.

Blues believes that Sutton has similarities to Teddy Sheringham - an enabler, an effective link-man who will bring others into play.

He's also a strong-minded individual who will say unpalatable things in the dressing-room if needed.

We shall see. Sutton needs to get fitter after a season truncated by injury at Celtic. The importance of next Saturday's home match against Portsmouth needn't be overstated. The quintessential six-pointer.

No doubt to reflect the game's crucial nature, the public address system will be cranked even further up in volume. I must remember to pack the earmuffs.

A generation of Premiership supporters are fated to become prematurely deaf.

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