FBT International Academy still ‘slightly’ losing money, Sutcliffe still involved, ‘huge’ interest from China

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

Everyone involved in CFC Development School Ltd should ask themselves why it ended up in liquidation.

That’s the view of Mike Hegarty, CEO of the Romiro Group whose firm FBT have taken over another side of the academy business.

Last week it was revealed in a report given to creditors that CFCDS Ltd owed a total sum of £250,000.

Creditors included HMRC, Derbyshire Council Council, Sondico and Blacks Solicitors.

Liam Sutcliffe, who initially set up the business in 2012 alongside former Chesterfield FC CEO Chris Turner, was listed as a creditor who was owed £72k.

Last year the Derbyshire Times revealed debts of £77k and staff departures over late payment of wages.

It was announced last September that FBT had acquired a 50 per cent stake in CFC International Academy, a second business set up by Sutcliffe.

Sutcliffe has since stepped away from his day to day duties at the newly named FBT International Football Academy.

His director’s report to creditors said CFCDS ceased trading in January 2016, with the international academy taking over the administration.

Hegarty, who says the international academy is still ‘slightly’ losing money, explained why FBT were listed as a creditor owed £62k by CFCDS.

“It’s a combination of things,” he said.

“When we agreed to get involved in this we provided what was then the CFC International Academy with £20k of a marketing budget.

“It was part of the deal that we were going to give all the kids, hundreds of kids, a package of kit, and all the staff – and we didn’t get any payment.

“It’s been quite difficult, the marketing budget was used to pay some creditors off.”

Hegarty refused to lay specific blame on any one party for the failure of the original business and insists the international academy idea is still worth pursuing.

“There are a lot of people who need to ask themselves a lot of questions as to how it got to the stage it has,” he said.

“Everyone that has been involved can learn from it.

“We’ve stuck with it because we think it’s a great idea.

“It got pretty messy, it’s very, very complicated.

“Clearly there are people who love football and want to do the right things but don’t know how to get out of a business predicament.”

Hegarty admitted that Sutcliffe is still involved, albeit through another firm.

“Liam has gone from the FBT Academy,” he said.

“He’s still involved in a part time basis with another company, recruiting on our behalf, on a commission basis.

“If I was his age and had gone through what he has, I would have walked a long way away.

“Football is not the easiest place to be when things are not going well.”

The FBT International Academy are currently recruiting footballers and want to broaden the horizons of any youngsters who enrol.

And they’re hoping for an influx from the Far East and Africa.

“We are actively recruiting. It’s still slightly losing money, we’re paying all the necessary bills,” he said.

“We’ve got huge interest from China, Thailand and Nigeria.

“There are potentially 50 or 60 students coming next year, plus the existing contacts we’ve got.

“We’re changing the education system so there are much broaded opportunities offered to kids, they’re going to be able to do degree programmes and courses other than sports courses.

“We’re looking at kids who come into universities to do degrees who could come and play academy football instead of university football so potentially the ones who are good enough could still progress into football.

“We want to make sure the kids we’ve got all get their coaching qualifications and get something out of it.

“When we asked where the kids have gone to, some of them are playing semi-pro football but there are no records of what qualifications they’ve got, have they got value added? That’s what we’re pushing for.

“It’s steady in terms of finance.”