It’s all on one page. It’s hidden but it’s there, screaming anxiously over legal jargon. the millions he made in the Noughties Premier League wage explosion; the monopoly money he earned at Newcastle United, West Ham and Manchester City, the collection of hours which was his only real extravagance; his unreasonable generosity, to the lengths to which he went for the sake of others; injuries he suffered. the pain he went through. The money he got and how much it cost him dearly.
There on that page, hidden but howling: the school he set up in Sierra Leone, the funerals of strangers he paid for in Cardiff, the kid from the favela who funded his education in Rio de Janeiro, his divorce settlement, the friends he indulged in, the friends who betrayed him, the advisors who misled and deceived him and the loss of his family home, Sant-Y-Nyll, in St Brides-super-Ely, in the sum of £1,398,071.20 which he owed to Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs. It’s all there, all reduced to stark lines of black and white in a one-page document.
“In the High Court of Justice and the Business and Property Courts of England and Wales,” reads at the top of that page, “List of Insolvency and Companies (ChD). Insolvency and Corporations Court Judge Jones, 27 March 2023, in the case of Craig Douglas Bellamy, and in the question of the Insolvency Act 1986, Upon petition by HMRC, creditor of the aforementioned debtor, filed with this court on February 03, 2023… Craig Douglas Bellamy has been declared bankrupt.”
Bellamy stares at the page in the modest flat where he lives in North Manchester. He does not own the apartment. He can’t own it. Hired by Championship club Burnley, where he works as assistant coach to Vincent Kompany.
He no longer owns any property. He doesn’t own a car. He cannot own a car. He is now, officially, bankrupt, and if there is some comfort in that fact publicly, he is also keen that his situation serves as a warning to the young footballers of today, who earn more than he did and who have the unscrupulous and ruthless peddlers who have been surrounded by opportunists just as They once surrounded him.
Burnley assistant Craig Bellamy says battle against bankruptcy ‘like being on death row’
Bellamy (right) owns no house, no car, and no mortgage after losing everything, and his financial ruin as a result of a series of failed investments on his behalf in a number of properties
“I’ve lived the past five or six years waiting to die, just waiting for someone to kick me out. I’ve been waiting for the cell door to open and someone to say, ‘Today is the day,'” Bellamy says. That I won, I can’t get a mortgage. Financially I don’t have a future. The hurt of it. I can’t own anything. It’s all gone.
My life was on hold. I’m not a tax evader, but I was very naive and HMRC has been hounding me for unpaid taxes for quite some time. Everything that was taken from me. If you get advice from the wrong people, it’s all a bleed, it all diminishes. It got to the point where bankruptcy became a relief. This means that I can live again.
I know some people might think I wasted all my money on drinking or gambling or drugs. I don’t have. I can be quiet where you won’t hear from me but I won’t be at the bar. I have never touched drugs since I was a little kid. I don’t gamble. I have never gambled. Doesn’t make sense to me. But, unfortunately, I bet on people.
Bellamy’s financial ruin is the result of a series of spectacularly failed investments made on his behalf in property at London’s Albert Embankment, a building project in Seven Quaid Road in Cardiff, a wine bar and steakhouse in Penarth Marina called Pier 64 and a movie. The Partnership Tax Delay Scheme, which was targeted by HMRC and was responsible for plunging many footballers and other celebrities into financial trouble.
Some of them were also the product of bad luck and chaos. A collection of expensive watches he bought to mark milestones in his life may have been considered assets but only one survives. It is understood that four of them are in the possession of the jeweler but cannot be recovered as the business went into liquidation in 2020 and the jeweler entered the police witness protection scheme and cannot be contacted.
Bellamy played for clubs like Liverpool, Manchester City and Newcastle during his career
Even though he didn’t drink or gamble, Bellamy says losing his money this way would ‘feel better’
At least one of Bellamy’s former advisers became the subject of a police investigation when suspicions arose about the former Department of International Finance for Wales, about forged signatures, about a man impersonating him in a conversation relating to a loan, about arrangements regarding property that had been mortgaged to last, about the sale of some of that property and failure to complete many of his scheduled tax returns.
Bellamy was later told that after three years of this police investigation, the people he blamed for his plight would not be charged because it was not in the public interest to do so.
“I want this to be a warning to other players,” says Bellamy. Check everything, and make sure the people who advise you are regulated. If it’s not regulated, it’s the Wild West. Get your stuff reviewed by independent people, the equivalent of getting a second opinion. You grew up in a generation of footballers where everything was done for you. every bill. Wherever I was, the club did everything for me. I think this is wrong.
‘It makes you vulnerable.’ It’s good for players to take their own responsibilities because one day the club won’t be there. You will finish your career and still be young and when you are done who will pay your stuff then? You have to learn to live. You will live in the real world.
When I was a young player starting at Norwich, my biggest fear was money. I was always wary of that. I didn’t want to have a lot of money but no job. I’ll give you all the money as long as I can keep my career going. I always thought money would be the devil. It will distract me to the point where I will lose my hunger. I will be distracted so I will lose my bite and my ambition to reach the top.
Chasing what everyone considers success is not my pursuit. I don’t understand that chase. Having nice things is a nice thing, but it doesn’t mean anything. I don’t wake up for it. I don’t get up to pursue beautiful things. I never felt like I had money anyway. I could afford the nicer stuff but there was no fuss about it. It actually felt like it was more of a pain in the ass, something people use it for.
Wherever you go, you will be overcharged. Wherever you go, you are mugged. People think: “It doesn’t matter, he’s got so much of it, he won’t even notice.” People think you are a mobile cash point for them. I felt guilty for saying no when people asked for help, so I never said no. They are not calling me now. You don’t hear from them. There was a guy I helped get back on their feet, he was living with me and then he robbed me. We were best friends.
The idea — which I think is crazy now but as a little kid bent on becoming a footballer it made sense — was for me to look after my football career and for a man I trusted with my finances. to take care of money. I said, “As long as I finish football it will be taken care of… You trust me to play football and I will trust you with everything else.” It didn’t work out too well, put it that way. Not for me, anyway.
Sometimes money is all we talk about in football. We define players by how much they earn per week as much by how many goals they score or how many trophies they win, and so it was with Bellamy at a time when he was negotiating huge contracts for him at Newcastle United, West Ham United and Manchester City. And he was donating all the money he was earning. It felt like a bottomless pit. Sometimes he knew he was giving it up. Sometimes, he didn’t.
Bellamy’s story is the instructive story of a kid who grew up on a tough estate in Cardiff, drifted in and out of juvenile delinquency, left home at the age of fifteen and soon found himself making amounts of money that didn’t make sense to him and were alien. to the social norms that defined him in South Wales. Money confused him and confused him so he trusted others to manage it for him. He didn’t even know how much money was in his bank account. He didn’t even want to know. He was ripe for exploitation.
Bellamy issued a warning to young players on the back of his battles with bankruptcy
was naive. definitely. “Beyond naive,” he says. He was an idiot. He will admit it too. Worst of all, he was trusting. He was so confident that he gave one of his financial advisors power of attorney over his finances. Bellamy was struggling with his mental health at the time, as he had done on and off throughout his life, and could not cope with the stress of trying to manage his money. He let someone else do it.
Football players who blew their fortunes
The Argentine legend filed for bankruptcy in 2009 after Italian authorities demanded £42m in unpaid taxes from his time with Napoli between 1984 and 1991.
The troubled England star avoided bankruptcy in 2011 by agreeing to a five-year payment plan with HMRC over a £42,000 tax bill. He settled the debt by the deadline
The passport of the 2019 World Cup winner Brazil has been confiscated due to unpaid taxes and government fines. He reportedly had the equivalent of £5 in his bank account
Bellamy says: “People say footballers should know better, but why should I know better? I left school at 15. I felt like a naive, stupid person. I didn’t want to drink or gamble but if I lost money that way, So maybe I would be kinder to myself. If I had done it myself, I could continue to fix it. I don’t trust people because of this. Once you trust someone, this happens. Deep down, I knew things weren’t right but I didn’t want to. Facing her. I didn’t know how to face her. “If I’m getting it wrong here, I thought,” I thought.
“I’m lucky because I know what I’m doing as a coach. I’m fine as a footballer. But imagine if I wasn’t. Imagine if I didn’t want to be involved in football. Where do I go? What can I do? What kind of life am I going to lead? When you get into A dark depression and you start having suicidal thoughts, that’s when it comes in. I should have been enjoying my retirement from playing. All the injuries I’ve had, all the work I’ve done… For what? For the people you trust to do this to you?
I entertained a lot of dark ideas. But I knew the anger had to go because I was making myself sick. I’m thankful I never turned to drinking and had close friends who were great to me. Then, suddenly, Vincent appears. I wasn’t ready to take anything else because my health wasn’t good – dark thoughts and dark moments can turn you into a bad state. I wasn’t ready to manage because I had to learn to manage myself first.
I knew I had to get up and I had to keep working. Keep going, keep going and you’ll be fine. I knew if I kept going and stayed with him, something amazing would happen. I believed in it so much that I brainwashed myself. Now I know how lucky I am to be at Burnley, because I’m doing something I love and something I’m good at. Now we are top of the league and I love what I do. And now, after all, something amazing is happening.