Tycoon behind Wilko ran up huge debts on football and horseracing

Tycoon behind Wilko ran up huge debts on football and horseracing

A member of the multi-millionaire family behind Wilko blew a chunk of his fortune running up huge gambling debts.

Peter Swann, who shared in a £63million payment from the business in 2014, also presided over a catastrophic slump at the local football team he bankrolled.

His wife Karin Swann, a granddaughter of Wilko founder James Kemsey Wilkinson, sold her share to the other side of the family – her cousin Lisa Wilkinson, uncle Tony and his wife Christine.

Losses: Peter Swann with wife Karin and one of their horses

Swann used part of his payout to bankroll Scunthorpe United. However, the club was last season relegated to the National League North. Fans staged a pitch protest against Swann, who was forced to sell Scunthorpe this year, but he still owns the ground.

The gambling losses emerged last year when court papers showed he was suing bookmakers Apollo for letting him bet beyond his means. 

Apollo allowed him to bet on credit and from 2014 and 2018 it was estimated he had bet in the region of £20million. 

Papers stated he would regularly bet between £5,000 and £20,000 on a single event, according to The Athletic magazine. Swann insisted the losses were his own money and unrelated to Scunthorpe.

He had more luck owning racehorses. One of them, Rhythm N Hooves, scooped a £51,000 prize at this year’s Royal Ascot.

There is no suggestion that any of Swann’s betting money came from Wilko.

‘We have nothing to do with Wilko and no comment to make,’ he said.

Additional reporting by Richard Marsden. 

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