Chris Turner says 25 parents owed money by his football school have been paid and the Chesterfield CEO has issued a statement that was deeply critical of former staff.
Mr Turner released a statement on the club’s website about the Chesterfield FC Player Progression Pathway (PPP) and Chesterfield FC International Academy, private ventures he owns with former non-league footballer Liam Sutcliffe.
The statement was in response to a series of Derbyshire Times articles which detailed the PPP’s £77,000 losses in their 2015 accounts and recent staff departures amid allegations of unpaid wages.
A club sponsor, Paul Boler, also told the Derbyshire Times that he had started legal action against the PPP directors over money owed from a cancelled football trip – but he was paid last week and stopped the legal proceedings.
In a statement released today Mr Turner said: “I felt it was necessary to respond to the speculation regarding the two organisations that are associated with our club in order to set the record straight.
“Parents of youngsters who were due to go on a trip to France voted to cancel the trip following the acts of terrorism in Paris.
“Despite the fact that there was no requirement to do so, as a gesture of goodwill, the PPP agreed to refund the cost of the trip and payments have now been made to all 25 parents.”
Mr Turner claimed over 150 youngsters had moved from the PPP to the club’s official academy and that the International Academy’s youngsters would be educated through a new partnership with Oxford Academy.
The statement made no reference to allegations by the departing coaches that they had gone up to three months with no pay, leading to several departures. Instead Mr Turner criticised coaches who left the football school recently, alleging that they timed their exits to damage the PPP.
“The recent resignation of coaches working for the PPP was disappointing,” he said.
“The coaching staff are part-time employees so there will be times when coaches leave for different reasons.
“A number of coaches resigned at 3pm last Monday, two hours before coaching was due to begin.
“This obviously caused Liam Sutcliffe a massive problem and he had to make the reluctant decision to cancel the training session. This is an extremely rare occurrence in the four years it has been operating.
“I understand that a number of the coaches are setting up their own development school, which is linked to a junior club.
“The timing of their departure was clearly done by the coaches to damage the PPP as much as possible for their own gain.
“There are now new staff on board so it is fully operational again.”
Although the club have repeatedly made clear that the football school is a legally separate entity, the statement on the Chesterfield FC website went on to say that the Spireites would benefit from the PPP’s corporate backers.
“The PPP and International Academy are now starting to develop commercial partnerships which will help the organisations progress,” said Mr Turner.
“In order to go forward, commercial partnerships need to be introduced for simple economic reasons.
“One such partnership is with a Far East sportswear manufacturer, which will enhance the whole programme.
“This will also result in the organisation of pre-season trips for the first-team squad next year and the year after.
“We aim to expand on other commercial deals which will have similar benefits for Chesterfield FC.”
Mr Turner believes that the PPP and International Academy are the envy of other Football League clubs and will provide a more cost effective alternative to the Elite Player Performance Plan operated by top clubs.
“This is an innovative scheme which has attracted interest from elsewhere,” he said.
“A number of Football League clubs have expressed interest in both the PPP and International Academy.
“I think more clubs will adopt a similar approach to youth development in the future because the EPPP system has proved to be very expensive and is not producing the results that many within the game predicted.”
The Derbyshire FA and Football Association are yet to comment on the issues surrounding the football school, but a Football League spokesman said: ““We are aware of the situation and note the reports but are unable to offer comment at this time.”
The Derbyshire Times will contact the PPP’s former coaches for their response to Mr Turner’s claims.