Two coaches who walked away from Chesterfield FC’s under-fire Player Progression Pathway due to unpaid wages have responded to allegations made by club CEO Chris Turner in an online statement.
Earlier this week, the Spireites chief released a statement on the club’s website about the PPP and Chesterfield FC International Academy - private ventures he owns with former non-league footballer Liam Sutcliffe.
The statement was in response to a series of Derbyshire Times articles which detailed the PPP’s £77,000 losses in their 2015 accounts and recent staff departures amid allegations of unpaid wages.
In it, Mr Turner alleged the coaches had timed their exits to damage the PPP, after it emerged they were planning their own independent coaching venture.
Of the departed coaches - Stephen Hancock, Neville Hunt, James Whitfield, Sam Raper, Ash Barber, Elliott Flowers and Ryan Taylor - both Neville Hunt and James Whitfield have formally responded to Mr Turner’s claims.
Both state that they took the decision to resign due to unpaid wages, and that they were fully committed to the development of the young players.
Mr Hunt told the Derbyshire Times: “I have to say I’m very disappointed and let down by the comments made [in Chris Turner’s statement].
“All through my time at the development centre I have always given 100 per cent and have always had the kids in the forefront. The motivation to keep going on was for them.
“But now all of a sudden I have become a bad coach.
“My bank has charged me for late payments due to getting paid late, had bills refused as no funds were in my account and, as a parent, I have had to tell my kids they can’t have treats or days out as the promised money didn’t hit my account when promised.
“My relationship has suffered too as my fiancé has had to cover both our outgoings on most months as money was late.
“This caused obvious unrest and I moved out once to stay in the village for two nights. She has also done a lot for me and I couldn’t risk that, so this has also became a massive factor in my decision.
“This is the truth, no ulterior motive, purely that trust had gone and enough was enough.
“Our idea to start up Player First FC came about after support from parents, saddened to hear about the way we had been treated, and themselves fed up.
“My boss at The Granite and Marble Factory in Sheffield has been very supportive during the whole time and helped me wherever he could.”
In a separate statement, former coach James Whitfield said: “I think it’s important to recognise the fact that as staff we did nothing but support the kids. “We went four months unpaid because we valued the set of lads that were there. We enjoyed seeing them improve on a weekly basis and most of all we just enjoyed seeing them develop, not only as footballers but as young adults.
“The decision to leave was one of the toughest I’ve had to make, purely based on leaving the lads behind. Payments had been promised time and time again. “This left me feeling a lack of trust for the company.
“This is the reason for me leaving the PPP, as I couldn’t afford to get into the same situation again due to bills needing to be paid, which lead to me resigning along with the rest of the staff, who have all been in the same situation.
“The fact we all resigned at the same time has nothing to do with trying to damage the PPP in any way and in particular not for our own gain. I am extremely saddened to see the statement made by Chris Turner due to the fact that it portrays us in a negative way and signifies we don’t value the kids when the fact of the matter is we turned up for 16 weeks unpaid without dropping our standards of coaching, all for the benefit of the PPP and in particular due to our passion for the lads at the PPP and the International Academy.
“The reports surrounding setting up a new business venture are correct but this wasn’t spoken about between former staff until resignations had been done. This decision was done due to us not wanting to stop coaching and feeling rather than moving onto separate avenues of work, we would try to rally together to do what we love doing - coaching aspiring young footballers.”
The Derbyshire FA and Football Association are yet to comment on the issues surrounding the football school, but a Football League spokesman said: ““We are aware of the situation and note the reports but are unable to offer comment at this time.”
PICTURED: Chris Turner and Liam Sutcliffe, and the CFC Village from where the PPP is run.