As howls of indignation continue from those implicated in Lord Stevens' report into the cleanliness of Premiership transfers, another debate over the morality of football finance has been crackling away in the place where some will be deepening their tans.

A different brand of bung has been obsessing Spain during the countdown to last night's conclusion of the most entertaining league in Europe. These, so the legend goes, come in briefcases. Their very existence is the subject of intense argument. Their contents, indeed, are as enigmatic as the golden light which glowed from the prized lump of luggage in Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction.

Maletines is the Spanish word for briefcases. Yet it just as commonly refers to payments made to ensure that a team tries its hardest in a match of great importance to a third party. Considering the claustrophobic closeness of the title race in La Liga this season, they have been at the very top of the speculation agenda.

Marca, the Madrid-based sports newspaper, stirred the pot during the week by alleging that Mallorca had been offered 2m (£1.4m) to knock Real Madrid off their stride at the Bernabeu. Last month, there were also stories that Getafe stood to collect 3m (£2m) by earning at least a draw against Barcelona. Each was met by stringent denials from the championship rivals that they would ever lower themselves by getting involved in such a murky business.

That has been the standard response over the decades in which such payments, technically legal but against footballing rules, have been rumoured. Javi Navarro, the Sevilla captain, recently dismissed the briefcase phenomenon as "an urban myth", while Mario Cotelo was more creatively circumspect. "Briefcases are like Osama Bin Laden," said the Getafe midfielder. "No-one has ever seem them, but they exist."

A few are, though, willing to pop their head above the parapet and confirm that such inducements have been made. Davor Suker, the former Croatia forward, said last Thursday that he had been paid by Atletico Madrid, or an agency acting on their behalf, for helping Sevilla gain a draw against Barcelona in 1996. Atletico went on to win the title that season.

Suker also posed the question of whether there was, in fact, any moral ambiguity about the whole affair.

"I think they are fine as long as they are for winning," he said. "It would be bad if they were given for losing and if anyone does that then they should be put in prison because it would kill football."

Perhaps he could be right. Is it really a sin to pay someone that bit extra for doing the job they should be doing in any case? As WC Fields once put it, it's morally wrong to allow a sucker to keep his money.

The standpoint seems realistic, especially as piousness has about as much place in modern football as enjoying an unfiltered Capstan at half-time. Across the continent, finance fuels success like never before and it's difficult to imagine the correlation not continuing to gain strength over the coming years. The odd briefcase left here or there might just be a logical extension of the situation: those who can afford it get the best results.

Suker, though, is wrong. For one thing, the ethical line separating financial motivation for winning from financial motivation for losing is not necessarily as broad as he might like to imagine. Money may dominate football, but it is essential for supporters to retain belief in the integrity of players to go out and win matches on their own behalf. If they are doing it for the cash, then it should be the usually ample amounts paid weekly by their employer.

Suker said Spain was the only nation in which he had experienced such "motivational payments". The idea of them ever cropping up in Scottish football is enough to chill the blood. There is a strong enough propensity for conspiracy theories within our game without adding another dimension to the nonsense.

The Spanish Football Federation has launched a number of inquiries in recent seasons into the alleged use of the briefcases, but have been unable to find sufficient evidence that the payments were made.

Perhaps they could call upon Lord Stevens and his Quest team to dig for clues. There would doubtless be one or two individuals willing to drive them to Heathrow Airport and wave them on their way.

n and another thing The Netherlands has hosted an unusually high concentration of scouts from Europe's leading clubs in recent days. The UEFA European Under-21 Championships taking place in the nation have already significantly raised the profile of the country's latest homegrown crop.

The Dutch are on course to retain their title after winning Group A, with Royston Drenthe and Maceo Rigters particularly impressive in their progress. It whets the appetite for Scotland's own esteemed group of youngsters beginning their FIFA Under-20 World Cup campaign against Japan on July BBC Scotland's decision to purchase rights for live coverage of the tournament, a rare appearance at this level for the national side, is one which deserves credit.