Column: One year on, football school’s unholy mess still springing nasty surprises on Spireites

Chesterfield Football Club Village.
Chesterfield Football Club Village.
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It’s almost a year since the Derbyshire Times’ first exposé on the failed CFC Football Development School and yet the ‘football club proper’ is still not out from under its cloud.

The brainchild of former non-league footballer Liam Sutcliffe, who partnered with then-Chesterfield CEO Chris Turner, it was undoubtedly a good idea badly executed.

Also known as the Player Progression Pathway (PPP), the football school was heavily linked with Chesterfield Football Club, using its badge, basing itself at CFC Village opposite the Proact and offering first refusal of players to the Spireites.

The fact that one of its directors was the man running the show at the Proact was a fairly weighty link between the businesses in itself.

Unfortunately, their relationship with Sutcliffe and his company, which he put into liquidation recently owing around £250,000 to creditors, is still dragging the club through the mud.

Last summer legal action was initiated against Sutcliffe and Turner’s enterprise by a Chesterfield FC sponsor who also threatened to withdraw his financial backing from the Spireites – all over mess made by the PPP.

And nearly 12 months on, legal action relating to the debacle is still being pursued.

The very same solicitors Sutcliffe instructed to deal with legal threats against him, has taken a county court judgement out against Chesterfield FC, because they weren’t paid for working to erase previous CCJs lodged against the club that should have been filed against the PPP.

It’s an unholy mess and one that has the potential to spring more nasty surprises on the Spireites, as this week’s revelations prove.

Heaven knows what former international footballer Gary Caldwell was thinking when he had to sit through awkward question after awkward question about the club’s relationship with the PPP at the AGM earlier this year.

It’s a bloody nose that, as yet, hasn’t stopped dripping.

It shows that tough questions need to be asked before agreements are made and relationships entered into, not after when things are going down in flames.

The PPP model, under Sutcliffe, was actually in place at Rotherham United before it came to Chesterfield.

There must have been a reason the Millers opted not to continue with it and unearthing that reason might have prevented the never-ending sorry tale.

This tale must be a cautionary one that is never repeated at the Proact.