How 'drugs kingpin' linked to boxing is now planning to move into football

SITTING on a scruffy trading estate in a Lancashire village, the office of the MTK football agency seems a world away from the glitzy Premier League.

Now it aims to grab a slice of the £500million spent each year on agency fees — and while company director Danny Vincent is a complete unknown, the founder of the business’s parent company, Daniel Kinahan, is certainly not.

Known as “Big Dan” by Tyson Fury, Kinahan made his name in the ­boxing world — and is also a ­notorious figure in his native Dublin.

He has been accused by Irish police, courts and media, as well as the BBC’s Panorama, of being a drugs kingpin and organised crime boss — despite never having been convicted of any criminal offence.

Kinahan, 43, has been labelled a senior figure in organised crime by Ireland’s high court, while a 2009 diplomatic cable sent to the Pentagon by a US Embassy described him as a “suspected international drug-trafficking figure”, resulting in him being banned from entering the US.

And police in Ireland suspect the Kinahan cartel — founded by his convicted drug-smuggler father Christy, who is now living in Dubai — has made at least £1billion selling narcotics globally.

MTK Football’s director Danny Vincent, 36, was surprised when The Sun called last week at his £200,000 home just a stone’s throw from Aintree racecourse.

The tattooed Liverpool FC fan was unprepared for questions — despite his company’s links with Kinahan.

Vincent, who counts Kinahan’s cage- fighter pal Darren Till among his shareholders, claimed he knew ­nothing about the alleged crimelord.

He said: “I’ve got nothing to do with that. I work with Darren Till.”

When pressed again about Kinahan, he said: “No, no — it’s bang out of order knocking at my door.”

Prior to that, Vincent had admitted to our reporter that MTK Football had no clients, adding: “We have only just started out. This is mad — I’m not used to all this.”

While Vincent may claim not to know Kinahan, The Sun understands the alleged mobster is already on first-name terms with dozens of ­Premier League players and even a club chairman.

That is because Kinahan has been plotting his move into the world of football for at least five years, from his base in Dubai.

One well-placed source connected to multiple Premier League players revealed: “Kinahan has been planning this for years. He has been getting close to players and close to agents.

“He has got to know lots of them while living in Marbella and more recently since he moved to Dubai.

“Both destinations are playgrounds for footballers and underworld figures ­— and those worlds collide in high-end restaurants, bars and clubs.

“He will definitely end up representing top-level players at some point.”

Kinahan’s blueprint for success is the world of boxing, where he has acted as an “adviser” to Tyson Fury ahead of his £400million fight with Anthony Joshua.

He founded MTK Global in 2012 and the firm now has more than 250 fighters on its books.

In 2017 he claimed to have stepped away from the company, but he recently admitted he is still heavily involved in the fight trade.

The source said: “It’s harder to find a boxer not linked to Kinahan than one who is. He dominates the boxing world and everyone knows it.”

Kinahan operates in the shadows and is not registered with the British Board Of ­Boxing, or the Football Association, leaving them powerless to regulate him.

In 2007, Kinahan and his ­younger brother Christy Jnr were held by police in Spain on suspicion of drug-smuggling. He was not charged. His father — known as “the Dapper Don” — is said to have passed on control of the cartel’s narcotics and money-laundering operation to him in 2016.

Prior to moving to Dubai — where his dad and brother also live — he is alleged to have helped the cartel to amass a ­ fortune from drug-trafficking.

Ireland’s Criminal Assets Bureau filed a high-court ­affidavit describing how ­Kinahan managed and ­controlled the day-to-day operations of the gang.

Police forces in three ­countries currently want to question him. And in 2016, Kinahan was the intended target of an horrific shooting in Dublin’s Regency Hotel.

Six gunmen from the rival Hutch gang, including one dressed in drag and others disguised as police officers, stormed in with AK47 assault rifles during a boxing weigh-in.

They murdered alleged cartel enforcer David Byrne and seriously injured associate Sean McGovern — but Kinahan escaped.

After a BBC Panorama documentary investigated his links with both boxing and organised crime last month, he said in a statement: “There is no evidence or proof against me. I have said repeatedly I have no criminal record anywhere in the world.”

Despite the allegations, sports stars appear to love him. Last month Amir Khan called him “one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met” while Tyson Fury and Billy Jo Saunders respectfully call him “Big Dan”.

A respected boxing source told The Sun: “The boxers that he represents absolutely love him because he treats them like kings.

“And all the people who support him will always say thwaat he hasn’t been convicted of any crimes, so why shouldn’t he be involved in boxing?”

But another source from the fight world urged more caution.

The source, who has met Kinahan on several occasions, said: “He is very intelligent and very dangerous. He is comfortable knowing that you know of his reputation.

“He pushes and probes you and sizes you up. It’s disconcerting and very difficult to deal with.” And while the Premier League and the FA may hope that Kinahan’s new ­football venture never gets off the ground, The Sun can reveal that he is already embedded at the game’s top table.

Kinahan has curried favour with dozens of players owed millions by a rogue watch-dealer who disappeared with their money.

Players from clubs including Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Leicester, Aston Villa, Burnley, Leeds and Middlesbrough were all fleeced after handing over up to £250,000 on the promise of being sold rare Richard Mille, Philippe Patek and vintage Rolex watches.

The jeweller, who cannot be named for legal reasons, failed to deliver the goods to around 30 footballers, agents and other watch-traders despite pocketing the cash.

Unable to get their money back after he went bankrupt, several stars turned to Kinahan, who agreed to help.

A source said: “If you’re owed £250,000 and someone gets it back for you, you’ll like them no matter what their alleged past is.”

Kinahan has also helped out when players have got into trouble in Dubai.
The Sun was told that when a Premier League stalwart got into an altercation while on holiday there, “Kinahan sorted it out”.

But while Kinahan and his ­associates are happy to court ­players for business, they will not tolerate disrespect.

One England star p***ed off some of Kinahan’s gang in a nightclub and, shortly after, his watch was stolen. They are not to be messed with.

The source said: “One England star p***ed off some of Kinahan’s gang in a nightclub and, shortly after, his watch was stolen. They are not to be messed with.”

Links between Kinahan’s associates and young football stars have already begun to emerge.

Spurs and England star Dele Alli and Troy Parrott, an Irish clubmate of his at Tottenham, were spotted in pictures taken on a winter break in Dubai with Lee Byrne, son of Liam Byrne, a key associate of Kinahan.

Liam Byrne was previously named in court as being at “the very top tier” of organised crime in Ireland, and a “close and trusted associate and lieutenant of Daniel Kinahan”.

So how will Premier League managers and owners ­handle the situation if, or when, a player signs to MTK?

The reality is that the clubs may never know who they are dealing with. A source said Kinahan has been wooing a top-level football agent who has more than 150 ­players on his books.

“Kinahan won’t start representing a player,” said the source. “He’ll just go and buy an agency and absorb it. And bang, he’ll be into football in a big way.

“But no one will ever know because the Kinahan name will never appear on any paperwork.”

But as he looks to expand his influence into the world’s most popular — and richest — sport, it is clear that Kinahan is not someone who can be ignored.

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