Sheffield United Sponsor Linked to Ponzi Scheme Fraud

Sheffield United's sponsor, Australia-based Union Standard International Group (USG) came under further scrutiny earlier this year after it was reported that the company allegedly scammed more than AUD 500 million form Chinese investors.

It was already surprising to see the company continue on the front of Sheffield United's jerseys this season after it declared bankruptcy last summer. The partnership, which is based on a three-year deal signed in 2019, continued as regular but more bad news have come out since after investigations carried out by the administrators at insolvency firm BRI Ferrier.

In November it was reported by The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald that USG had scammed "close to AUD 100 million from Australians". BRI Ferrier released a report earlier this year stating that it appears as if money raised from investors was used to cover trades of customers of its CFD business. The administrators believe that interest payments were financed through new members, one of the hallmarks of a Ponzi scheme. They believe that USG could have been insolvent since 2016.

The company is at the center of discussion as Australian politics are working on overhauling what is being described as "world-lagging regulation" of high-risk financial products that some believe is "Bigger than the Wolf of Wall Street".

After news about the firm's insolvency broke last year, Sheffield released the following statement.

"A spokesperson for USG has confirmed the following. The directors and management of USGFX are committed to continue working with all parties and assisting with matters to ensure all legal requirements are satisfied," said the statement.

"USG Group, known as USG, consists of several companies, including USG AU, USG UK and others. The news relates only to USG AU and does not influence the financial status or service of USG.

"The UK operation, USG UK, which is regulated by the FCA is not affected by this situation and continues to trade as normal."

However, BRI Ferrier's Peter Krejci confirmed already back then that the sponsorship was specifically paid through the Australian arm of the company.

"The sponsorship is on the Australian balance sheet as a pre-payment to Sheffield United," Krejci said.

There's one year left on the three-year deal that was signed in 2019, reportedly worth GBP 3.5 million per season, but it's looking increasingly likely that Sheffield United will have to find a new shirt sponsor for next season. The club certainly have experience in this as evidenced by the fact that they've had eight different shirt sponsors since Prince Abdullah took over as owner of the club in 2013.

For what it's worth, when you click the USG logo on the official club website, it just leads to a page declaring that it's in liquidation.

Do you think that Sheffield United will present a new main sponsor for next season? Comment below.