Director blames unpaid fees and press coverage for academy failure

Chesterfield Football Club Village feature.'Liam Sutcliffe.
Chesterfield Football Club Village feature.'Liam Sutcliffe.

The director of the failed CFC Development School Ltd says problems collecting fees from parents of young footballers cost the business £100,000.

In a director’s report, presented at a creditors meeting last week hosted by liquidator Booths and Co in Osset, Liam Sutcliff also said that local press coverage of his academy’s financial struggles made the situation more difficult to manage.

The report revealed that creditors were owed a total of almost £250,000.

Derbyshire Council Council attempted to recover a debt of £13k, while Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs were owed £60k in PAYE and national insurance contributions.

Sutcliffe, himself listed as a creditor owed £72k, set up the academy in 2012 along with former Chesterfield FC CEO Chris Turner.

It was based at the CFC Village on Sheffield Road, opposite the Proact Stadium – but was legally separate from Chesterfield FC.

Last year a series of Derbyshire Times articles unveiled debts of £77k and staff departures over the late payment of wages.

A Spireites sponsor also threatened legal action when parents struggled to get refunds from a football trip to Paris that never took place.

It was announced in September that FBT Sports – part of Sir Rodney Walker’s Romiro Group – had acquired a 50 per cent share in CFC International Football Academy, another part of the business Sutcliffe set up.

Earlier this year, at the Chesterfield FC AGM, it was revealed that Sutcliffe had stepped away from his day-to-day duties at the newly named FBT International Football Academy.

And in February, Sutcliffe instructed Booths and Co to assist him in placing CFC Development School Ltd into creditors voluntary liquidation.

His director’s report said: “It became clear that the project suffered from insufficient investment which would be required to cover expenses and to increase marketing activities to get more players into the development school.

“It is certain that had this been available, more players would be admitted to the development school which would have increased revenues.

“However further funding was not available.

“It had been hoped that further marketing and investment opportunities would be made available from local business connections.

“Unfortunately, this did not materialise.

“Problems were also encountered in collecting monies from parents of academy players, with around £100,000 in fees being written off.

“The company was not in a position to pay the wages of a debt collection administrator and the negative publicity implications of pursuing parents through the courts would have been vasily detrimental to the reputation of the business.

“The project continued to trade under financial strain and with every new cohort of players came renewed optimism of what the business and model was capable of achieving.

“In spite of this, significant arrears of PAYE, NIC and invoices due to suppliers accrued because the company was not generating sufficient income to cover these costs.

“Unfortunately the financial pressures of the project were thrown into the spotlight, as local press had become aware of the financial difficulties of the company. which made the situation ever more difficult to manage.”

Sutcliffe insisted in the report that he did not take a salary for the majority of the trading period.

CFCDS ceased trading, according to Sutcliffe’s report, on 31st January 2016 and CFC International Football Academy took on the administration of the development school.