A football scam has been uncovered in Nottingham, which led to the dismissal of their chairman and three other top-ranking officials. Notts County’s owner is a convicted conman who was also part of an international fraud that stole millions from people across Europe. This begs the question as to whether clubs should be more wary about owners before handing over huge sums for players or selling shirts on TV ads.,
The “notts county owners” is a story of a conman who targeted Notts County football club. He used the power of social media to lure in investors and create false hype for his company.
Russell King was the mastermind behind the acquisition of Notts County in 2009.
No matter whose side you support, the first game of the new football season feels the same. There’s a heady combination of excitement and expectation, as well as a first look at new signings and a blank slate to hope that this is the year.
That first-game excitement was unlike anything I’d ever experienced as I took my place at a crowded Meadow Lane for Notts County’s opening game of the 2009-10 season. Something spectacular had just occurred.
League Two Notts County had been bought over by a mystery company named Munto Finance less than a month before, in July 2009. They’d proclaimed their grandiose goal of winning the Championship in five years, and they’d promised to back it up with unimaginable riches.
Younger supporters of the club, like me, started to fantasize of beating local rivals Nottingham Forest. Some of the loftier assertions were taken with a grain of salt by the more battle-hardened adherents. They’d seen far too many false dawns to be too excited just yet.
Sven-Goran Eriksson was then named Notts County’s new director of football a few days later.
Even the elderly combatants were enthralled as the former England manager gave a press conference to the world’s media. Eriksson was going to lead Notts County to the Premier League, so discussion of striving for the Championship faded away.
This is the same Notts County that came from a horrific 534 days in administration just six years ago. The same Notts County that has lurched from one relegation fight to the next since 2005, failing to finish in the top half of League Two.
That same Notts County were now on their path to the Premier League, led by one of football’s greatest names.
Our ascension to the big time could not have started any better.
New signing Lee Hughes scored a hat-trick in a 5-0 thrashing of promotion hopefuls Bradford City in front of Eriksson and a crowd of over 9,000 at Meadow Lane.
As a Notts County fan, being in the crowd with my family that day was one of my favorite memories.
However, none of it was true.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but there were no rich Middle Eastern supporters. There were no untold millions. It wasn’t the first day of Notts County’s ascension to stardom.
A scam artist named Russell King had duped the club, the players, Eriksson, and every fan who had dared to hope, and calamity was lurking just around the horizon.
More than a decade later, for a new podcast called The Trillion Dollar Conman, I teamed up with presenter Alice Levine, who is also from Nottingham, producer Nick Southall, and editor Carl Johnston to investigate the incredible story of what really happened at Meadow Lane and much more for the Sport’s Strangest Crimes series on Radio 5 Live.
What we found was considerably more sinister than we could have anticipated. It’s a multi-decade journey that takes us from Nottingham to North Korea, through Jersey, Bahrain, and Dubai. It’s a tale of deception, greed, fast automobiles, phony sheikhs, broken promises, and wrecked lives.
Of course, the supporters were blissfully unaware of all of this as they went into town for a pint after that amazing Bradford game.
In reality, most fans, including myself, didn’t raise any questions about who controlled the club or where the millions were going to come from since Eriksson’s presence was enough confirmation.
The Swede wasted no time putting together his fantasy football squad for League Two. We spoke with him for a long time on the podcast, and he said that he wants to rebuild from the ground up, beginning with a talented young goalkeeper named Kasper Schmeichel.
Schmeichel joined Leeds in 2010 after a season with Notts County.
Schmeichel, the 22-year-old son of famous Manchester United goalkeeper Peter, had failed to unseat Joe Hart as the club’s number one keeper during Eriksson’s time as manager of Manchester City.
He told us Schmeichel and his father needed convincing that lowering four divisions was a smart idea, but he ultimately agreed to a five-year contract for up to £1.5 million each year.
Notts County were soon associated with some of the game’s greatest names, including famous Brazil full-back Roberto Carlos and Portuguese winger Luis Figo, who had recently declared his retirement from Inter Milan but was expected to reconsider and continue his career in Nottingham.
The most absurd of them was David Beckham, who was still an England international and playing for the LA Galaxy at the age of 34.
Journalists have questioned Beckham whether he would be reunited with Eriksson at Notts County on multiple occasions. “There’s a few possibilities, to put it that way,” he said, perhaps adding fuel to the flames.
Then, at Meadow Lane, one of the best defenders of the Premier League era went through the door.
Sol Campbell may have been 34 and without a club after leaving Portsmouth, but he had scored in a Champions League final and competed in a World Cup just three years before. He has 73 England caps to his name.
In September 2009, Campbell signed his autograph for a young Notts County fan.
Campbell would take more than a month to be healthy enough to make his debut in September 2009, away at Morecambe.
My family and I were among around 800 Magpies supporters who traveled to the Lancashire coast to see what we hoped would be a footballing masterclass by one of the country’s top defenders.
We’d be very disappointed.
Campbell had a disaster that day, and Morecambe rightfully won 2-1, their first league win of the season, according to every fan I’ve talked to.
We all believed our dreadful day out was a fluke, but word surfaced a few days later that Campbell had quit Notts County.
The club immediately justified Campbell’s abrupt departure to the public, but less than a week later, another bombshell was delivered, one that could not be readily dismissed.
Russell King had completed a two-year term for fraud in the early 1990s for deliberately reporting his Aston Martin stolen in order to collect £600,000 in insurance, according to the Sun tabloid.
According to the club, King was only a “strategic consultant” who negotiated contracts on the organization’s behalf.
That was not the case, as we now know. King had organized the takeover of Notts County and was now in charge, despite the fact that his name was never displayed above the door.
However, the plot grew in scope. His takeover of the world’s oldest professional football team was the centerpiece of one of the most bizarre athletic con jobs ever perpetrated.
Sounds has a copy of The Trillion Dollar Conman.
By falsely claiming to be handling the Bahrain royal family’s sovereign wealth, King was able to take control almost half of a London investment bank. He subsequently took over Notts County with the help of a bank guarantee from the same bank, which turned out to be worthless later on.
Simultaneously, he constructed what he said was a massive worldwide mining corporation and, astonishingly, struck an agreement with the North Korean dictatorship to extract the country’s tremendous natural resources, which included coal and gold.
Eriksson informed us that in October 2009, King encouraged him to accompany him to North Korea, where regime officials asked him whether he could put together a decent World Cup squad for them.
He claims he battled to persuade them that this was impossible.
After securing the North Korean mining transaction, King went about making grossly inaccurate claims that the firm was one of the world’s largest mining corporations, with assets worth approximately two trillion dollars, and that plans were being made to float the company on the stock market.
Experts who have followed King’s actions for years believe he wanted to leverage his ownership of Notts County, a team that has made international headlines, to generate interest in the stock market listing.
However, King’s deception caught up with him, and his strategy failed. According to sources close to the transaction, if he had pulled off the stock market listing, it would have been one of the largest corporate scams ever.
King went to Bahrain, where he began planning a new scam that would end in the publication of a phony Middle Eastern edition of the Financial Times. Police pursued him, and by 2019, he was in prison, convicted of a ten-year-old scam he committed in Jersey.
He was freed from jail last year. We went to interview him for The Trillion Dollar Conman podcast, so we could hear his side of the tale. He, on the other hand, was adamant about not doing so.
With King out of the picture in Nottingham at Christmas 2009, Notts County were in severe peril as months of reckless spending caught up with them.
For the second time in a decade, the club was facing closure due to financial difficulties.
However, with just a few days before they were scheduled to appear in the High Court, a local businessman named Ray Trew secured a deal to acquire it for £1. He informed us that the loans he finally discovered were more than £7 million.
This was a bittersweet time for the fans, including myself. Of course, we were happy that our club had been rescued (again), but Eriksson’s departure after the takeover served as a stark reminder that the fantasy had come to an end.
We were all experiencing a communal hangover. We were given six months to sort through a jumble of strange, odd, and frequently hazy recollections. What had happened to the world? Is it possible that the entire incident was a dream? We didn’t have a regular management, and the club was drifting aimlessly away from the top of the league.
Then, in late February 2010, with the arrival of Steve Cotterill as manager, things changed once again. Cotterill, who is currently in charge of Shrewsbury Town in League One, is straight-talking and incredibly confident, and he gave the whole club the shock it needed to escape from its collective melancholy.
When he took command, Notts County were in eighth place, 14 points behind leaders Rochdale. However, they embarked on an incredible run of 14 victories in 18 games, scoring five goals in four of those games.
They raced up the table, finally capturing the championship by a comfortable margin of 10 points over second-placed Bournemouth.
The most amazing season in Notts County’s lengthy and tumultuous history came to a close with a League Two championship. This time, it was genuine.
The “bbc football” is a scam that has been occurring for some time. The conman would offer to buy the club and then sell it back at a profit. This was done by taking advantage of the lack of financial regulations in football clubs. The BBC followed Notts County through their troubles, which ultimately led to them being saved from bankruptcy.
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