Convicted criminal Stephen Vaughan senior poised for Valletta FC role

Former Floriana investor and English boxing promoter Stephen Vaughan, once jailed for a £500,000 VAT carousel fraud in the UK, seeks MFA clearance for Valletta FC committee role

Stephen Vaughan senior
Stephen Vaughan senior

English businessman and convicted criminal Steve Vaughan senior has agreed to invest in Valletta FC, with an official application filed with the Malta Football Association, sources who spoke to this newspaper have confirmed.

Valletta have been struggling on the pitch over the past two seasons, with the club sitting in 11th place in the standings with 11 points from 11 matches.

The club’s administration has faced pressure from its fans to change things around, with supporters group Ultras Beltin 999 issuing a statement calling for a change in the club’s hierarchy. They also recently carried out a protest during a BOV Premier League match.

This will not be the Vaughan family’s first time entering the Maltese football scene, with Stephen Vaughan jnr currently serving as St George’s FC President. The Bormla club are currently playing in Malta’s third tier football league.

MFA sources said should Vaughan Sr’s appointment be approved by the MFA, there would not be any infringement of MFA regulations barring family members from being on different club committees, as the clubs play in different divisions.  “One of them would then have to resign should the clubs start their season in the same division,” the sources said.

The return of Vaughan snr to Maltese football marks yet another milestone in the family's chequered association with Maltese sport.

In 2013, the Vaughans took control of Floriana Fc, with Vaughan jnr appointed chairman. Vaughan Boxing Promotions also shifted toward boxing promotion in Malta. In February 2014, after selling off their investment in Floriana FC, the Vaughans joined Mosta FC as main shirt sponsors, and then in the summer of 2014 signed a 2-year sponsorship with Hibernians FC. Vaughan jnr also became Mosta FC assistant coach and technical director, helping the club to its highest position in history as they finished fourth in the BOV Premier League in the 2013/14 season, before returning to the UK just six months later.

In 2015, Floriana FC's then president Riccardo Gauci filed for damages in a claim against the Vaughans. The club said that Vaughan owed over €70,000 since taking over management in 2012, handling player contracts and bringing over mainly UK players, leaving the new management picking up the pieces on unpaid salaries to players and coaching staff.

In the UK, the Vaughans' problems with justice continued, when in 2016 Vaughan jnr was jailed for 15 months for helping the killers of a police officer flee the country. Vaughan was implicated in the case when his sister’s boyfriend Timmy Donovan used his Mercedes to escape to Germany in the hours after the officer was killed. Vaughan admitting to having perverted the course of justice by allowing Donovan to use his vehicle to “evade apprehension or prosecution by police”.

In the past, Vaughan snr has faced various fraud charges in British courts, as well as becoming the first owner of a professional football club forced to reduce his shareholding because, according to the English FA rules, he was no longer a "fit and proper person".

Vaughan, a Liverpool businessman who acquired the Conference league club Chester City in 2001, was disqualified in 2009 from acting as a director of any company until November 2020, following his involvement in a £500,000 VAT carousel fraud while a director of Widnes Vikings rugby league club, which was then in administration.

The charges were that he "caused" Widnes to buy clothes from a UK company in three transactions worth £2.9 million, plus VAT of £505,265. Payment for the clothes were made to an account at the First Curaçao International Bank, based in the Netherlands Antilles. The clothes were sold on the same day to a company based in Spain; overseas buyers do not have to pay VAT, and Vaughan tried to reclaim the £505,265 for the club from HM Revenue and Customs.

In 2008, Vaughan snr was cleared of five charges of having fraudulently obtained finance deals to buy two new cars and then insuring those cars under false pretences. That year, he quit as Chester City chairman to then sell his stake.