Ex employee cautioned over ‘rafflegate’ but club faces no action

Chesterfield vs Crewe - ProAct stadium - Pic By James Williamson
Chesterfield vs Crewe - ProAct stadium - Pic By James Williamson
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Chesterfield FC face no further action after last year’s ‘unlawful’ raffle.

But former head of commercial Kevin Fitzgerald was issued with a caution having admitted running the lottery contrary to the Gambing Act of 2005.

A joint Chesterfield Borough Council and Derbyshire Constabulary investigation into ‘rafflegate’ has now concluded.

The episode attracted national headlines and embarrassed the club when it emerged that a raffle for a place on the first team trip to Hungary was never drawn and a ficticious winner was invented.

Only four supporters bought raffle tickets and when Spireites fan Mark Barton did actually travel to watch the club on their pre-season tour he noticed that competition winner ‘James Higgins’ was not present.

A club statement claimed that fictional characater Higgins, from Surrey, had been taken unwell and couldn’t travel.

Fitzgerald left the club in the wake of the scandal.

A council statement said: “An investigation by Chesterfield Borough Council and Derbyshire Constabulary into irregularities with a raffle held by Chesterfield Football Club has been concluded.

“The council and police were asked to carry out an investigation after the club promoted a raffle with a prize to accompany the first team on a pre-season tour to Hungary in July 2016.

“It transpired that the raffle was never drawn and a fictitious winner was invented by the club.

“When this came to light, the club reimbursed fans who had bought tickets.

“The club’s management carried out an investigation and identified who was responsible for running and promoting the raffle. This individual was dismissed from the club.

“He was interviewed and admitted having run an unlawful lottery contrary to the Gambling Act of 2005 and has been issued with a caution.”

Having concluded their investigation the council will be taking no further action and are satisfied the club have taken the necessary steps toward avoiding future problems with their lottery schemes.

Councillor Chris Ludlow, Chesterfield Borough Council’s cabinet member for health and wellbeing said: “Our officers have worked closely with police officers to carry out an investigation into this unlawful raffle held at Chesterfield FC.

“The club has co-operated fully with the investigation and we are satisfied that steps have been put in place at the club to prevent further unlicensed raffles from taking place.”

Chesterfield FC’s company secretary Ashley Carson welcomed the news.

He said: “I would like to thank Chesterfield Borough Council for the efficient and in-depth way that they have conducted their enquiries.

“I am satisfied with the outcome and happy that this very unfortunate incident can now be closed.”

Fitzgerald was recently appointed to a role at Oldham Athletic FC but his employment was terminated two weeks later.

“We have parted company due to a breach of contract,” said Athletic’s chief executive Mark Moisley.