Ex-football agent guilty of tax charge

A FORMER FOOTBALL AGENT has admitted mishandling the financial affairs of England and Liverpool player Stewart Downing.

Ian Elliott, from Newcastle, was handed a six-month jail term – suspended for two years – after he failed to provide proper information for tax returns when he was secretary for the midfielder’s company.

He acted for the former Aston Villa and Middlesbrough man when million-pound contracts were signed, reports the BBC.

Downing said he and his family were “let down badly” by Elliott, who was also accused of “woeful ineptitude”.

The charges relate to 2007 and 2008, when Downing played for Middlesbrough and emerged after an investigation into Elliott’s companies, conducted by HM Revenue & Customs.

He was working as secretary of Stewart Downing Promotions Ltd – a service company set up to manage Downing’s image rights and other matters.

Elliott also ran his own businesses, including a promotions company and a kitchen supplier, which Downing used.

He was responsible for handling large sums of money, but his work was described in court by one accountant as “one of the worst accounts I have seen in my working life”.

Elliott is now working as a commission-based salesman and kitchen fitter and living in rented accommodation, Simon Pentol, defending, told the court.

Summing up, Judge Martin Bethel QC told Elliott: “Stewart Downing is and has been for a number of years a very successful, high-earning footballer.

“You befriended him and his family when he was very young and you took them into your confidence. They trusted you.”

Downing, who now plays for Liverpool, said: “I’m obviously very sad. I put a lot of trust into him. I think me and my family were let down very badly.

“It’s obviously been a hard time for me, trying to play football with this on my mind. But you learn from your mistakes. I have to move on now and look back on this in a few years knowing I’ve moved on.”

Elliott was originally charged with fraud against Downing, with the case heard in York and Hull. However, he admitted a new charge of failing to keep accounting records when the case came to Doncaster, and the crown chose not to proceed with any of the other charges.

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