A football agent who works for Old Firm players is facing organized crime charges, the Sunday Mail can reveal.
The well-known trader is due to appear in legal action over his alleged gang ties.
It is the first time that a working football agent – intermediaries renowned in 2015 – has faced serious organized crime complaints 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 Scottish football.
A crime insider said: “Criminals are all over the game and operating in plain sight. The charges are not believed to involve his work as a footballer, but it does show you what type of characters are involved at the highest level of the game.
“The authorities have no desire to tackle the problem of who works as agents.”
The football agent – who we cannot name for legal reasons – is in court with two other men and has been operating in the game for a few years.
Current and past clients include players on both sides of the old business, as well as young stars linked to lucrative moves to the riches of the English game.
It also represents footballers plying their trade in Europe’s top leagues.
The officer is charged with involvement in serious organized crime under the Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010.
The revelation comes after Scottish Conservative MSP Russell Findlay warned Parliament that the national game was “tainted” by dirty drug money.
World football governing body Fifa is trying to introduce strict rules for agents, fearing they could spiral out of control.
The body deregulated the industry in 2015, scrapping agent licensing and exams.
He said the rules failed because only 30% of transfers were handled by licensed agents in 2011.
He hoped a ‘light touch’ approach would regulate itself with officers only required to have a clean criminal record and not be bankrupt.
But that failed and the agents became more and more demanding.
In 2021, clubs spent £387m on agent fees. That figure, from Fifa, had risen from £185million in 2014.
Latest figures from the SFA show clubs and players paid £3.6m to agents, with the former firm paying the lion’s share of nearly £1.4m.
An insider warned: “Fifa washed their hands of all this in 2015.
“He hoped that any crime would be tackled by local law enforcement like the police, but that failed.
“All we’ve seen are increasingly unscrupulous agents lured into gambling in pursuit of their fortunes.
“If you can arrange a transfer to the top flight in England, you’re okay.”
Last year the Sunday Mail revealed how five professional gamers told police their careers had been ruined by gang agents.
And earlier this month, Police Scotland teamed up with the Scottish Organized Crime Task Force and the University of Abertay on a program called The Fix.
A video of the sessions shows the real-life account of a young footballer being persuaded to organize a match.
Abertay’s research, using Interpol data, warned of the rise of organized crime in sport.
It revealed increasing doping, match manipulation and money laundering investigations in 2020 in sports such as football, boxing and horse racing.
Professor David Lavallee, from Abertay School of Applied Science, said: “Scotland, like many countries around the world, has seen a growing trend of match-fixing at all levels of sport.
“Due to the global nature of online gambling, it’s fair to say that all sports are prone to organized crime and match-fixing to some degree.”
Last week, community spokesman Findlay claimed Ireland’s dreaded Kinahan drug cartel was working with the
Lyon gang based in Glasgow.
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Kingpin Daniel Kinahan has had links with heavyweight champion Tyson Fury and Scottish champion Josh Taylor.
And it was revealed that one of his gang’s henchmen, John Morrissey, had sponsored Scottish Championship club Hamilton Accies through his drinks company, Nero Vodka.
Findlay said: “In recent years criminals have been lured into the Scottish national game with alleged dirty money paid into several clubs.
“It’s an open secret in Scottish football.
“Recently we’ve seen the phenomenon of gangsters impersonating officers and last year’s warning video was a smart move, but I asked SNP Justice Secretary Keith Brown what had happened since.
“This should have been a jumping-off point for action against the pinstripe-suited pests that view players as wealthy choices.”
Agents involved in transfers to Scotland sign a form declaring that they are of “impeccable character” and that they have not been convicted of financial or violent crimes.
The SFA said: “All players and their representatives must comply with the SFA’s regulations on working with intermediaries.”
Fifa said: “Fifa has seen an increasing number of abusive practices, widespread conflicts of interest and a market driven by speculation rather than solidarity and redistribution.
“In light of the above, Fifa is reforming the regulatory framework, of which agents are an essential part.”