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El Tel kicks off football fund


Terry Venables is a larger than life character from the school of hard knocks typical of an earlier generation of managers perhaps best represented today by Harry Redknapp or new Palace manager Neil Warnock.

'El Tel' has launched an offshore fund to foster young football talent.   The Football Talent Fund has been launched with three former professional footballers,   It is hoped to raise £5m which will provide education and coaching for young players from South America, Africa and Europe.

The fund will be domiciled in Anguilla, British overseas territory in the Caribbean.   (The island was somewhat farcically invaded by Britain in 1969 in what was known as Operation Sheepskin but also Operation Pig's Ear). It will also purchase a stake in a Portuguese football club which will serve as a feeder club for the players to enter major leagues around the world.

For a minimum investment of £5,000 and units of £1,000 thereafter, the fund will target a minimum return of 12 per cent per annum, with dividends expected to be paid within three yars of the start up. The returns will be generated from a percentage of the agency rights of players who develop to represent the Portuguese club.

The income and returns forecast are based on estimated revenues for the sale of eight contracted players over a five year period and value accretion of the fund's portfolio of player contracts and other investments.

When a fund offers a return of 12 per cent one knows that it is a high risk investment and anyone contemplating investing in it should seek independent financial advice.   The fund has not been reviewed or approved by the Financial Conduct Authority and is therefore not suitable for individual investors.

A letter writer to the Financial Times the following weekend made the following ironic comment: 'An unregulated, offshore investment with an opaque business model fronted by a celebrity.  Add in eye-watering fees for intermediaries.   Where do I sign?'

A previous football fund run by Singer and Friedlander in the 1990s performed poorly and individual shares have also generated poor returns.   However, fans usually buy them to have a 'stake' in their club or to give it financial support.  I know that my shares in my non-league club would be very difficult to sell and will provide no dividend, but it is a means of giving a donation which also gives me voting rights.

Another Scam ?

The Fund Managers of the Football Talent Fund do not appear to have the confidence of their financial regulator.  A warning about this fund has recently been issued : - see