just found an article on msn about it, mentions the north east too
A Premier League player is being forced to pay £15,000 every three months in protection money to a London gang, according to a BBC investigation.
BBC World Service's 'World Football' programme claims footballers are becoming easy prey for organised gangs.
A member of a south London gang told the BBC that one Premier League player had grown up with gang members and now had to pay them protection money or risk being attacked and having his career ended.
The gang member said: "The people above me have ordered this person that he has to pay them a certain amount of money every couple of months.
"That's just in case, so no one can touch you for three or four years but you are still paying that money every three months to keep yourself safe.
"It's £15,000 every two or three months, that may not seem a lot to a Premier League footballer but it's a lot of money."
The gang member said hiring private security would not protect the player, adding: "We know where your family, friends and the people close to you live and your security isn't going to protect them all the time."
The Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) said the claims underline the need for clubs to be aware of security issues surrounding players and their families.
PFA chief executive Gordon Taylor said "Football reflects society and sometimes society can be not very pleasant.
"If these threats are a reality it's a terrible intimidating thing for the player concerned.
"Clubs and players are a lot more conscious [about security], we have made them aware of this, and there's a strong need for private security to go alongside the police."
Another criminal from Merseyside claimed players filmed in lap-dancing clubs and brothels had paid blackmail demands of up to £100,000 to prevent the pictures being sold to newspapers.
David Beckham's former bodyguard Paul Hughes, who runs Benchmark Security, said he had heard of players being involved in protection money demands.
Hughes told the BBC: "I believe it has already happened, it's an ongoing thing in the north east from what I have been told.
"Most of your players are up-and-coming lads from the council estates and have still got all these contacts with people from when they were hanging around with their mates on street corners.
"When these other people see the money they have got they are contacting them."
Hughes said players and their families were easy targets.
He added: "They are so easy it's ridiculous and I think the clubs and the FA need to do a lot more to protect them and their families."
Hughes is confident players will be well protected at the World Cup in South Africa but warned that their families may not be.
He said: "I think the players are going to be so well looked after following the Togo incident.
"But I think the targets are more their family and friends over there in their own place, with their own little villas and their own drivers. That could affect the players, knowing the families are a potential target."