Money laundering scandal via English football re-emerges: media stays quiet

By Tony Attwood

Flag of CyprusAlthough it might not seem a particular concern to England, there has been a scheme in Cyprus known as “golden passports.”

It is a scheme in which foreign investors are able to get Cypriot passports in return for investment in Cyprus, and has (according to Al Jazeera) attracted numerous investors, dozens of whom were under criminal investigation, international sanctions or even serving prison sentences.

Then even the speaker of the Cypriot Parliament and an opposition MP were secretly filmed allegedly trying to facilitate a passport for a fugitive investor.

So far so murky and nothing to do with football, and although both men resigned, both insisted they were innocent of any wrongdoing.   But Al Jazeera insisted that dozens of those who applied were under criminal investigation, international sanctions or even serving prison sentences.

And that looked possible since Cyprus has needed investment since its economic crisis of 2013, so the scheme, allowing applicants to acquire a Cyprus passport in exchange for an investment of $3 million continued, and an independent enquiry has said that over half of the people getting the passport should not have had one.

The scheme has now been stopped, but Al Jazeera has now said that following that criminal gangs have switched to another old favourite as a new way to launder their money: English football clubs.

Al Jazeera (which is available in English in the UK for anyone who wants to watch) says that such is the desperate financial state of many English football clubs, they can be bought by criminals and then be used to launder the proceeds of their crimes.  It’s a story we’ve reported before – see the end of this article.

In this process criminal teams based in Cyprus create false identities for ‘investors’ who hide their financial gains in offshore trusts.  They then create false “due diligence” reports, and basically run their clubs as primarily a laundering operation, with football being very much as merely the day job.

To expose this Al Jazeera’s undercover reporters posed as representatives of a Chinese criminal with convictions for bribery and money laundering, and reached the brink of striking a deal to buy Derby County.

According to Al Jazeera carried out covertly filmed meetings in which it is proposed to use offshore trusts to hide the criminal investor’s money and identity.  The man claiming to see the deal through says that he will ensure the Football League approves the fictitious criminal investor.

Al Jazeera’s ‘The Men Who Sell Football’ video was released on Monday evening at and you can watch the whole film in English through that link.

The sale of Derby County to criminals did not go through, it being scuppered by the Al Jazeera broadcast, but there is no telling how many other deals have gone through.  We’ve been reporting the link with money laundering for years (see the end of this article for a few examples).

What’s more, back in February this year, we published the article, “Clubs are starting to mortgage themselves.  We’re approaching the tipping point”, in which we looked at the signs that revealed just how desperate the financial of some clubs has become.

Burnley for example has been sold to investors in the USA and the ground has been mortgaged to an American investment company.

Sunderland, Derby and Southampton have already fallen are all in hock to the same investment group.  And of course most of the time these deals which are often eye-watering are kept very quiet – although I am not suggesting any illegal is happening.

Interestingly details of one of the deals did emerge, and it turned out that Southampton are paying 9.14% interest on a loan they took out just over a year ago.   Now as we all know, interest rates generally are being quoted at less than 1% so why would any set of directors in their right mind toddle off and sign up to a deal at 9.14%?

Obviously Untold doesn’t run its own private investigations department, we just publish the news the UK football media likes to ignore, but those deals looked like signs of desperation to us, and desperation is a zone that can eventually be inhabited by criminals (although no suggestion of that in the cases mentioned).

If you have a good memory you might recall “How the media provides a cover for money laundering in football”

Indeed going back to 2013 we offered up “41 clubs visited by police on suspicion of tax dodging and money laundering”

And back in 2009 Money laundering, Notts County, Portsmouth, Newcastle, etc

It is a story that is out there.  It just doesn’t quite fit with the narrative that the media likes to project of a lovely clean industry, doing everything right.

Funny ol’ game, how quiet the media can go sometimes.

Gaslighting: how refereeing in the Premier League is manipulated, and why the media never speak about it.

(Footnote: the first ever mention of gaslighting in connection with football other than in this article appeared in the media just six weeks after the launch of the above series on Untold)


6 Replies to “Money laundering scandal via English football re-emerges: media stays quiet”

  1. Once again Untold Arsenal is highlighting the financial shenanigans underpinning professional sport and especially professional football in the UK.

    Is this fake news? Has it only now been discovered? This cannot occur in English professional football, surely?

    Professional footballers may well experience a short career earning wise, but professional sport, as an entertainment industry offering major hidden profit, opens up the market for both legal and illegal money laundering and profiteering!
    (Wealth managers make more money from footballers, who neither understand nor have the time to try to understand the financial markets, then anyone else.) One single transaction, e.g. simply investing in shares in a foreign currency, can generate fees for the wealth manager several times over.

    Now, how many of us remember the name Rune Hauge? For those readers who have never heard of the name or had forgotten it, Rune Hauge, hit the headlines in the 1990s “bungs scandal,” where the then-Arsenal boss, George Graham, was found guilty by the FA of receiving illicit payments from Rune Hauge in relation to transfers of two Scandinavian players.

    Evidence suggests that Rune Hauge’s company Profile Sport Limited was incorporated in the British Virgin Islands on 7 June 1995, and fully migrated to Guernsey on 10 December 2013. With migration, the name also changed to Profile Sport and Media Limited.

    A 2016 revelation by the Swedish public broadcaster, Sveriges Television (SVT), documented that 150 million Swedish kroners (roughly 15 million pounds) was transferred from the Swedish FA (SvFF) to Profile Media Limited in the British Virgin Islands in 2009 after Rune Hauge had acted on behalf of SvFF in the federation’s Swedish football TV rights negotiations.

    A step further up the ownership ladder from the company today known as Profile Sport and Media Limited, we find Sarnia Management Corporation, a Guernsey entity controlled by Rune Hauge, where Hauge long-time partner Lisa Ann Davey is a named director.
    In the Panama Papers revelations, Sarnia Management Corporation is tied to over 200 shell companies spread around the world’s tax havens.

    Now, for those readers wanting more information on Profile Sport and Media, with related evidence, please refer to the Norwegian independent magazine Josimar at

    Tollbugata 19
    0152 OSLO


    Håvard Melnæs
    +47 930 04 203 (Signal))

    (The current Manchester United manager might well prefer interested readers not to read Josimar!)

  2. Well Dave, one of the reasons that a fair number of people actually believe such stories is that they are all across Europe, in the media, and come complete with evidence. The stories that we have found in this way in the last couple of years have indeed turned out to be true – indeed we were the people who for an English audience broke the story about Infantino’s private jet trip.
    But of course you can refuse to believe simply because the UK media doesn’t publish the information. That’s up to you. And please do write in again as it gave several us quite a smile.

  3. Tony

    The interest rate on the Southampton loan does not prove anything per se, especially without knowing all of the terms. In fact if it is an unsecured loan or without recourse to the owners (no personal guarantee) then a 9.14% interest rate (a year ago) is probably about right. I see multiple deals around that range in my line of work (real estate development)

    I am not saying that football is clean (it patently isn’t post Abramovich) but this is not a good way of proving your point.

  4. Dave….please DO inform us what the real situation is. We are waiting with bated breath!

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