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Ex footballer Michael McIndoe breaks silence over fraud claims

Michael McIndoe has broken his silence in an interview with ITV News. Credit: PA

A former footballer, investigated over claims he conned millions of pounds from many household name players, has today broken his silence on the allegations facing him.

Michael McIndoe told ITV News: "I have never run any kind of investment scheme or Ponzi scheme."

Speaking publicly for the first time, McIndoe agrees that he did take money from friends in football and other associates - but says the vast majority was legally documented.

"They were all personal loans, and 80 per cent of them were done through lawyers," he said.

Angered by much of what has been reported about him over the past few years, the former Wolves, Coventry City and Bristol City player was eager to tell his side of the story - especially when it came to the high profile players he’s alleged to have duped or at least tried to.

He insisted: "I have never taken a penny off JT (John Terry), Danny Welbeck I’ve not even met, and I’ve never taken money from Robbie Keane."

Former footballer Jimmy Bullard is said to be among those who handed money over. Credit: PA

On Jimmy Bullard, another Premier League player alleged to have lent him money, McIndoe points out that Bullard himself hasn’t ever acknowledged the loan. He does, however, appear on a list of 43 potential creditors handwritten by McIndoe himself and submitted during his bankruptcy proceedings.

It also includes a Premier League striker and a current Championship manager.

McIndoe has been the subject of a long-running fraud investigation, led initially by the specialist Falcon Unit at New Scotland Yard.

Today, he questioned the number of players said to have been left out of pocket by him.

If there were hundreds as has been alleged, he says he wants to know why only two have gone on the record. He is also suspicious of the length of time the police investigation took to get underway.

"Why did they not come to see me for two years?" he said. "There was a lot of intimidation going on."

Michael McIndoe 'showcasing his wealth' in Marbella. Credit: ITV News

Despite that investigation, and the fact that files are still sitting with the Crown Prosecution Service as they decide whether to charge McIndoe, he accuses the media - ITV News included - of making a bankruptcy process sound like a fraud case.

McIndoe says that at all times he was open with those who loaned him money.

"The money I borrowed was for a multitude of things, consolidating loans, to help me in my financial situation," he said.

He wouldn’t be drawn further on details, but admitted: "There was gambling involved, yes - some was to pay off gambling debts but I wanted to get into business."

He said he hasn't gambled now for five years, adding: "I’ve learned lessons."

He also had a message to all those who gave him money and never got it back in full: "I humbly apologise." In the beginning, he says he was "meticulous" in that "I paid this money back to football friends."

Michael McIndoe arriving at his bankruptcy hearing in June. Credit: ITV News

In the latter part of his autobiography, Wildling, which McIndoe’s spent the best part of the past year writing, he details an ill-feted business venture which eventually led to his bankruptcy.

An ambitious project to launch an exclusive nightclub on London’s Oxford Street ended up leaving him in debt, in his own estimation at the time, by around £10 million.

In his book, McIndoe explains how, soon after he’d taken full ownership of Stamp and not long before its launch, he discovered the building was due for demolition in a couple of years. The lease would not and could not be extended. He recalls how he’d been led to believe something quite different by a recent business partner.

"I got ripped off, I feel annoyed at trusting people I shouldn’t have done," he said.

Apart from what he believes is misleading media coverage, McIndoe is also less than complementary about attempts by the Official Receiver to hold him to bankruptcy restrictions of up to 10 years.

Among many other complaints, he points to basic accounting errors during the hearings amounting to £4m.

It was an application he says he successfully fought off.

The PFA has contacted players who officers suspect have been stung in "investment" scheme run by Michael McIndoe. Credit: PA

Now, McIndoe is setting out on the next chapter of his life, telling me: "I’m going to get back into football."

At this stage, however, he said he was not in a position to go into any more detail.

As Wilding illustrates, McIndoe has resilience and charm. He moved from a tough Edinburgh estate where gangs and drugs were a way of life to professional football.

He beat an alcohol addiction to play more than 500 matches for 10 different clubs before his calamitous move in to business.

Given he’s bounced back from every setback so far, you wouldn’t bet against him making a success of his next project.

But it will be interesting to see just how welcoming a place football will be for him now.