Al Jazeera investigations: The men who sell football
- David Harrison / Al Jazeera
Al Jazeera’s Investigative Unit (I-Unit) goes undercover to expose how English football clubs can be bought by criminals and become vehicles to launder the proceeds of their crimes. The investigation provides a startling insight into the murky world of football finance, ownership and governance in the wealthiest and most popular league in the world. Middlemen and agents thrive in an industry where players’ salaries can be hundreds of thousands of dollars a week. They explain how they are able to hide corrupt money behind opaque offshore trusts, submit fraudulent due diligence reports, employ “dirty tricks” and give criminals false identities. Posing as representatives of a Chinese criminal with a seven-year conviction for bribery and money laundering, our undercover reporters are helped to strike a deal to buy a famous English Football Club. Football League rules bar anybody with an unspent criminal conviction with a sentence of more than a year from buying a football club. The investigation follows a rebellion by fans at the end of last season over plans by Europe’s biggest clubs to form a Super League. Fans attacked what they claimed were greedy owners who used English football clubs as a cash cow and cut them off from the community.