Lord John Stevens, former Metropolitan Police commissioner, told a press conference in London that his team had examined 362 transfers in a two-year period from January 1, 2004 to January 31, 2006, and that eight clubs would be investigated further.

 

"The Quest team has managed to examine all 362 transfers and reduce (the number) down to 39 within the English game which require further investigation," Lord Stevens said.

 

"It's absolutely essential for the game to ensure that there is a process that will prevent the type of things that we have seen alleged and allow the public to take confidence in that," he added.

 

In his initial report into alleged corruption by agents, managers and clubs, Stevens, who was given two more months by the Premier League to complete the inquiry, asked for patience from the public, but sounded confident that any wrongdoing would be exposed.

 

"This, as you know, is not an easy inquiry but we will do everything in our powers to ensure that it is a successful one," he said.

 

"There is a large amount of work to be done. We will get to the bottom of what the problems are but you must be patient.

 

"If we can't expose it, I don't know who can."

 

While not naming the eight clubs under further scrutiny, Stevens was able to eliminate four clubs - Watford, Sheffield United, Reading and Leeds United, as they were either not in the Premier League or made no transfers between the dates in question.

 

Richard Scudamore, Premier League chief executive, agreed with a collective decision by the top-flight teams not to name the eight clubs still under investigation in order to prevent an "unprecedented frenzy" around them.

 

'Bungs' common in deals

 

The inquiry was initiated by the Premier League amidst high-profile claims that illegal payments to managers, known as 'bungs', were a common part of transfer deals.

 

"If we can't expose it, I don't know who can."

"It's in the public interest to be sorted out now."

- Lord John Stevens

Sven-Goran Eriksson, former England manager, told newspapers that three unnamed Premier League clubs were involved in such dealings, while current England manager Steve McClaren said he believed most agents in England were corrupt.

 

Two managers not in the Premier League, Mike Newell at Luton Town and former Queens Park Rangers coach Ian Holloway said they had been offered added incentives by agents.

 

Stevens, whose final report will include recommendations on the administration and monitoring of the transfer market, was pleased that clubs had offered him "unanimous support", for which he was grateful.

 

"There is no doubt from what I have seen from the Premier League that there is an absolute willingness to sort this out now," said Stevens.

 

"I don't think anyone can doubt that, bearing in mind some of the media coverage in the past month or two.

 

"It's in the public interest to be sorted out now."

 

Although there have been numerous claims over 'bungs' in English football, the only person to have been reprimanded so far is former Arsenal manager George Graham, who was banned for a year in 1995 after receiving $800,000 from an agent involving two transfers.