A football agent who works for Old Firm players is facing organized crime charges, the Sunday Mail can reveal.
The well known dealer is due to appear in a court action over his alleged gangland ties.
It is the first time an operating football agent – rebranded intermediaries in 2015 – has faced serious organized crime claims in Scotland.
But sources have warned other unscrupulous individuals are involved in the game and experts say the growth of global gambling has sparked an organized crime crisis in Scots football.
A crime insider said: “Criminals are everywhere in the game and operating in plain sight. It’s not thought the charges involve his football work but it shows you what sort of characters are involved at the highest level of the game.
“Authorities have no appetite to tackle the problem of who works as agents.”
The football agent – who we can’t name for legal reasons – is facing court with two other men and has been operating in the game for some years.
Current and past clients include players on both sides of the Old Firm, plus young stars linked with lucrative moves to the riches of the English game.
He also represents footballers plying their trade in top European leagues.
The agent is facing claims of being involved in serious organized crime under the Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010.
The revelation comes after Scottish Tory MSP Russell Findlay warned Parliament the national game was “contaminated” with dirty drug cash.
World football governing body Fifa is trying to bring in strict agent rules amid fears they are spiraling out of control.
The body deregulated the industry in 2015, scrapping licenses and agent exams.
It said the rules had failed because just 30 per cent of transfers were managed by licensed agents in 2011.
It hoped a “light-touch” approach would regulate itself with agents only required to have a clean criminal record and not be bankrupt.
But that has failed and agents have become increasingly demanding.
In 2021 clubs spent £387million on agent fees. That figure, from Fifa, had soared from £185million in 2014.
The latest SFA figures show clubs and players paid £3.6million to agents with the Old Firm paying the lions’ share of nearly £1.4million.
An insider warned: “Fifa washed its hands of it all in 2015.
“It hoped any criminality would be tackled by local law enforcement agencies like the police but that’s failed.
“All we’ve seen is more and more unscrupulous agents attracted to the game in search of their fortune.
“If you can arrange one transfer to the top flight in England, you are quids in.”
Last year the Sunday Mail revealed how five professional players told police their careers had been ruined by gangland agents.
And earlier this month Police Scotland teamed up with Scotland’s Serious Organized Crime Taskforce and Abertay University on a program called The Fix.
A video for the sessions shows a real-life account of a young footballer persuaded to throw a match.
Abertay research, using Interpol data, has warned of rising organized crime in sports.
It found increasing investigations into doping, match manipulation and money-laundering in 2020 in sports including football, boxing and horse racing.
Professor David Lavallee, of Abertay’s School of Applied Sciences, said: “Scotland has, like many countries around the world, seen growing trends of match fixing across all levels of sport.
“Due to the global nature of online gambling it’s fair to say that all sports are at risk from organized crime and match fixing to some degree.”
Last week community spokesman Findlay claimed the feared Kinahan Irish drug cartel was working with the
Glasgow-based Lyons gang.
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Kingpin Daniel Kinahan has had ties with heavyweight champion Tyson Fury and Scottish champ Josh Taylor.
And it was revealed one of his gang’s enforcers, John Morrissey, had sponsored Scottish Championship club Hamilton Accies through his drinks firm, Nero Vodka.
Findlay said: “In recent years, criminals have been drawn to Scotland’s national game with suspected dirty money pouring into several clubs.
“This is an open secret in Scottish football.
“Recently we’ve seen the phenomenon of gangsters posing as agents and last year’s warning video was a smart move but I asked the SNP Justice Secretary Keith Brown what has happened since.
“This should have been a starting point for action against parasites in pinstripe suits who see players as rich pickings.”
Agents taking part in transfers in Scotland sign a form declaring they have “an impeccable reputation” and haven’t been convicted of financial or violent crimes.
The SFA said: “All players and their representatives must comply with the SFA regulations on working with intermediaries.”
Fifa said: “Fifa has observed a growing number of abusive practices, widespread conflicts of interests, and a market driven by speculation rather than solidarity and redistribution.
“In light of the above, Fifa is in the process of reforming the regulatory framework, of which agents are an essential part.”