Man who tried to buy Sheffield Wednesday declared bankrupt

A BUSINESSMAN exposed for using the services of a convicted money launderer in an attempt to take over Sheffield Wednesday has been declared bankrupt.

Geoff Sheard, who used a fake letter from an offshore Caribbean bank in his bid for control at Hillsborough, was also reported to be fronting a later bid to take over Newcastle United.

Mr Sheard’s involvement with Sheffield Wednesday ground to a halt in late 2008 after the Yorkshire Post revealed a bank letter sent to the club claiming that 100 million euros was available for investment was actually produced by crooked financier Richard Frank Downes. He was sentenced to 33 months in prison in the US after an FBI sting trapped him while attempting to launder hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The Dominican Republic bank which was said to hold the funds for the Sheffield Wednesday takeover was not operational and had no account holders and no money.

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Shortly afterwards it was revealed Mr Sheard had also been chased through the courts for a string of personal debts running into hundreds of thousands of pounds. At that stage, a series of county court judgments included a number of charges on Mr Sheard’s former home near Lancaster.

It is understood that residence has since been repossessed.

Despite the revelations, Mr Sheard re-emerged in 2009 as a front man for a bid to takeover Newcastle United – another bid which came to nothing.

It has now emerged that Mr Sheard applied to make himself bankrupt in April. A bankruptcy order was subsequently made at Lancaster County Court.

The order described Mr Sheard as unemployed and living at an address in Caton, near Lancaster, which is his parents’ home. His occupation is described as sales and customer services though it is unclear for whom he has recently been working.

In the 1990s Mr Sheard worked for sports kits manufacturer Asics before getting involved with a chain of sports shops, including the club shop at Preston North End. He then worked as a consultant for a company called Sockatyes, which makes branded sock tie-ups for a range of professional clubs.

Shortly afterwards he emerged as a businessman fronting the alleged takeover attempts at Sheffield Wednesday and Newcastle but it is unclear where his income came from or if he had any at all.

Mr Sheard’s approach to Sheffield Wednesday saw him initially invited into the directors’ box at Hillsborough and he regularly courted media attention over his plans for the club which was desperately in need of investment at the time.

The Owls have since been taken over by Milan Mandaric, who bought control when the club was on the brink of sliding into administration last year.

It is not known how many creditors are affected by Mr Sheard’s bankruptcy though the total debts are likely to run into hundreds of thousands of pounds.

His bankruptcy is due to be discharged 12 months from the date of the original order though this is pending the outcome of inquiries by the Insolvency Service.

The series of events leading to bankruptcy is investigated in all cases, along with a probe into what assets, if any, are held.

Mr Sheard declined to comment on his bankruptcy yesterday aside from offering an expletive before the conversation abruptly ended.

‘MILLIONS’ THAT WERE HARD TO PIN DOWN

GEOFF SHEARD’S approach to Sheffield Wednesday first emerged in early 2008 when a national newspaper suggested millions of pound were on hand to invest in the Owls.

But as time moved on, it became increasingly apparent the alleged investment was proving difficult to pin down.

When Sheard was confronted with the revelation that his Dominican bank letter was a fake, he insisted it had merely been drawn up to “get a foot in the door” so he could begin negotiations.

However it then emerged that banks, law firms, car finance companies and even a TV installation company had obtained county court judgments against him for outstanding debt.