Wales

Craig Bellamy 'devastated' by charity investigation

Craig Bellamy Image copyright Getty Images

Concerns about former Welsh footballer Craig Bellamy's football academy in Sierra Leone are being looked into by the Charity Commission, the watchdog has confirmed.

The Craig Bellamy Foundation was set up in 2008 but closed in September 2016.

No accounts have been filed since March 2015.

Bellamy himself has appointed a legal team to examine any financial irregularities and his solicitor said the 37-year-old was "devastated".

A statement issued by Bellamy's legal representative, Robert Price of Bowden Jones solicitors, said: "These investigations are ongoing and we therefore cannot comment further at this stage on any specific allegation.

Mr Price said his legal team would "assist all government agencies in their investigations".

The Charity Commission said it was assessing the situation but has not yet opened a formal investigation.

'Accountable'

"As part of our engagement, we are reminding trustees of their duty to file their outstanding financial accounts," a commission spokesman added.

"Trustees must account to the public and donors for their income and expenditure, and the failure to do so may give rise to concerns about the governance and administration of a charity."

The Charity Commission website states that no accounts for the foundation have been filed since 31 March 2015.

Bellamy was moved to start the charity after visiting Sierra Leone while a Liverpool player.

The academy offered five-year scholarships to children aged 11 to 13 in the West African country and created a youth football league, which at one point took in about 2,400 youngsters - boys and girls - in some 70 clubs.

The academy stayed open while the country was hit by the Ebola outbreak in 2014.

In a prestigious football career, Bellamy earned 78 caps for Wales and also played for the likes of West Ham, Manchester City and Newcastle.

He finished his playing career at his hometown club Cardiff City and is currently a coach in the Bluebirds' Academy.

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