Belfast Telegraph

Boom to bust ex-Manchester United player who's becoming a priest declared bankrupt

By Chris Woodhouse and Lisa Smyth

Former Manchester United star Philip Mulryne has been declared bankrupt — just days after he took a huge step on his spiritual journey to become a Catholic priest.

The 38-year-old ex-Northern Ireland midfielder earned up to £500,000 a year during his playing heyday with Norwich City, and he dated sexy model Nicola Chapman.

But Mulryne, of Creeslough Park, west Belfast, was last week declared insolvent at the city’s High Court.

Legal papers reveal he sought the order himself, and the bankruptcy was described as a “self adjudication”.

The ex-footballer surprisingly turned his back on the high life several years ago to train for the priesthood with the Dominican Order. He is due to  become a fully ordained priest next summer.

He made his ‘solemn profession’ to the Order in a ceremony at St Saviour’s Priory in Dublin earlier this month.

But Companies House records show Brother Mulryne — as he is now known — remained a member of two London-based film companies which attracted a string of other top football investors including ex-Liverpool star Craig Bellamy.

Brother Mulryne has been a member of Tudor Films LLP and Zeus Films LLP for the past 13 years.

Tudor Films has bought the leasing rights to TV series including Footballers Wives 2 and the classic film Goodbye, Mr. Chips.

According to filed company accounts, however, Tudor posted losses of  more than £900,000 while Zeus lost over £800,000.

Zeus has leased shows including Taggart, A Touch Of Frost series 10 and the children’s cartoon series Bounty Hamster.

The likes of footballer Wayne Rooney and BBC presenter Jeremy Paxman have used film companies as tax efficient investments through a scheme created by ex-Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown when he was Chancellor.

The scheme allowed participants to write off any investments in the British film industry against tax.

It’s believed celebrities ploughed as much as £2 billion into various companies before the rules changed in 2005.

There have been reports that a number of stars who invested in such companies could face massive tax bills.

Brother Mulryne could not be contacted for comment about his financial difficulties yesterday.

He enrolled at the Pontifical Irish College in Rome in 2009, his first step on his journey to becoming a priest.

At the time his former Norwich City team-mate Paul McVeigh spoke of his “amazement” and “shock” when he learned of the decision, and travelled to meet his friend in Rome during his initial training.

“I know for a fact that this is not something he took lightly,” he said at the time.

“When I arrived in Rome I was met by a very contented looking Phil.”

Mulryne was no stranger to controversy during his time as a footballer, having been sent home in disgrace from a Northern Ireland squad in 2005 after breaking a curfew to go drinking with   team-mate Jeff Whitley.

Mulryne is the latest in a long line of high profile ex-footballers to go bankrupt.

Former Man United and Northern Ireland star Keith Gillepsie was declared bankrupt in 2010 and later admitted he blew £7m during his career. Ex-England goalkeeper David James, former Aston Villa midfielder Lee Hendrie and ex-Blackburn and Scotland defender Colin Hendry have also declared bankrupt.

Author Alan Gernon recently revealed that almost half of professional footballers face the threat of bankruptcy within five years of their retirement. In his book Retired: What Happens to Footballers When the Game's Up he also reported that a third of married players will be divorced less than a year after hanging up their boots.  

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