Agent took footballer's cash to prop up business, court told
AN England footballer told a jury yesterday how he discovered hundreds of thousands of pounds missing from a bank account, allegedly "siphoned" off by his "dishonest" agent.
Stewart Downing (26) told York Crown Court how he discovered just £11,000 (€12,785) in one of his business accounts.
The former Middlesbrough FC midfielder told the jury the account should have had £600,000 (€697,387) to £700,000 (€813,690) in it.
The court was told the money was allegedly siphoned off by his agent Ian Elliott to prop up his failing business projects.
The court heard Mr Elliott (53) represented Downing since he signed his first contract with the English side, aged 15.
He said he trusted Mr Elliott with all his business dealings, but the relationship turned sour in January 2007 when Tottenham Hotspur were said to be interested in the player during the Premier League's transfer window.
He said Mr Elliott had leaked details of Tottenham's interest on a local radio station.
Mr Downing said he was content to stay at Middlesbrough and he didn't want to move and was unhappy Mr Elliott had talked about it in public.
He described the transfer speculation as "unsettling" and he said he no longer trusted his agent and he decided to check a bank account, trading as Stewart Downing Promotions Ltd.
He said: "I discovered a lot of money missing. I relied on him to do most things on the business side."
It is alleged Mr Elliott also acted as agent for Middlesbrough FC, while also acting for Downing during contract negotiations, something des- cribed in court as a "conflict of interest" and against Football Association rules.
Mr Elliott, of Foxhills Covert, Newcastle, denies four charges of fraud.
The trial continues.