A FORMER Chester City FC and Everton FC striker has been jailed for seven years after admitting selling drugs.
Michael Branch, 34, pleaded guilty to two charges when he appeared at Chester Crown Court last Thursday.
The first was he handed over just under 3kg of amphetamine to another man in a Liverpool car park, and the second related to the seizure of 1kg high-purity (82%) cocaine from Branch’s home address in Otterspool on July 10 this year.
One kilo of cocaine will typically fetch £40,000 to £50,000 at wholesale, while amphetamine will usually cost £1,500 to £3,000 per kilo at wholesale.
The prosecution was brought by the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA).
A spokesman said: “This was significant criminality committed by someone who would once have been viewed as a role model.
“The message here is that entering the illegal drugs trade is a route to prison, not to financial gain and a celebrity lifestyle.”
A product of Everton’s youth system, Branch was at one time considered to be the blues’ equivalent of Michael Owen. He played 41 times for Everton before moving to Manchester City and Wolves.
He later played for Chester City, where he had his most successful stint in terms of goalscoring.
He appeared 60 times and scored 16 goals for the club between 2004 and 2006, but fell out of favour following a bust-up with then-manager Mark Wright.
After his professional career was over, he played for the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League side Burscough FC and finished his football career there in 2010.