Football is big business, and it doesn't come much bigger than Manchester United - commercial giants and the richest club in the world. But in the shadow of Old Trafford, a black economy is growing to rival the commercial power of the official sales channels. "Scum Airways" is an inside investigation of the Manchester grafters - touts, black marketeers and shady dealers - who, led by characters like "Big Tommy", have come up with a remarkably successful money-making venture: Scum Airways. With the expansion of the Champions League came the opportunity for the grafters to move from ticket touting and producing "unofficial" replica kits into the independent travel business. International Travel is the company for those who, through choice or because their police records prohibit them, do not travel with the official clubs. Their customers include many "straight" supporters of Leeds United, arch-rivals of Man U, but Tommy's core clients are the "Lads" - die-hard 30-something football hooligans. "Scum Airways" follows the exploits and adventures of Big Tommy and his team of grafters as they continue to build their empire.
John Sugden went along for the ride and provides startling insights into professional football's burgeoning black economy. From Munich to Madrid, Amsterdam to Bangkok, through to the streets and bars of Tokyo and Sapporo during the 2002 World Cup, and beyond, "Scum Airways" reveals the dark side of the football business.
John Sugden has written many sports books, including FIFA and the Contest for World Football and the acclaimed Badfellas (with Alan Tomlinson). He is a Professor of the Sociology of Sport at the University of Brighton's Chelsea School.