Chesterfield FC project bailed out by top sports figure

Chris Turner's troubled venture into a football academy business is to be transformed by the intervention of a global sportswear firm and a major sporting administrator, we can exclusively reveal.

Thursday, 22nd September 2016, 11:11 am
Updated Tuesday, 4th October 2016, 2:06 pm
Chris Turner

Sir Rodney Walker, prominent in the UK arm of Thailand-based FBT, is behind the deal. It makes FBT joint owners of the controversial coaching school based opposite Chesterfield FC, where former Wednesday player and manager Turner is chief executive.

As an independent enterprise, Turner launched CFC Football Development School Ltd believing it to be a more cost-effective way of developing talent for the club. But the company ran up debts reportedly rising to around £77,000.

Now FBT have taken a 50% stake in the business and view it as an international model. They have signalled their intent with a commitment for five years initially.

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I understand the school was propped up by personal loans from both Turner and Chesterfield director Ashley Carson, totalling nearly £60,000 between them.

These can now be repaid with the school, led by coach Liam Sutcliffe, now on a proper business footing following its earlier struggles.

Walker is a renowned sporting figure. His chairmanships have included the Rugby League, World Snooker, Sport England and UK Sport.

Sir Rodney said: “I am delighted to be associated with the new FBT International Academy and for it to have its home in Chesterfield. I’m very impressed with the progress already made. I hope we can take this forward, not only in Chesterfield, as our ambition is to take this model globally.”

Turner has been criticised for his involvement but has always felt the project to be visionary and will feel vindicated by Walker’s heavyweight backing of it.