Rejected former Sheffield Wednesday star’s battle with Sheffield golf club over ‘archaic’ membership rules

Former Sheffield Wednesday footballer Carlton Palmer is locked in a battle with a 127-year-old Sheffield golf club over its membership admission process after an application to join the club was unanimously denied by its board.

Tuesday, 15th March 2022, 12:39 pm

The 18-time England international, who last year moved back to South Yorkshire after 15 years working as a youth football coach in Shanghai, believes in part he has been victimised because of his elevated public profile as a former footballer.

And now he intends to make a stand against an ‘archaic’ membership system to ensure future applications are not affected by what he feels to have been unfair treatment.

Palmer was nominated and seconded by fellow former footballers as a proposed new member at Abbeydale Golf Club and as has long been the process at the club, his name was listed as a potential member on an open message board within the clubhouse, with existing members invited to pass comment.

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Former Sheffield Wednesday midfielder Carlton Palmer is locked in a battle with Abberydale Golf Club over its admissions process.

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It is understood that an existing member presented tabloid clippings of Palmer’s past to the club’s admissions board – including reports of a 25-year-old conviction he has always strenuously denied – which he believes unfairly influenced the club’s decision to deny his application.

He also says false claims of a separate nature were made on his past by members, which he believes greatly influenced their decision. With no interview process in place at the point of process his application was thrown out, Palmer was given no direct right of reply to these allegations.

Speaking to The Star, the former Owls midfielder claimed he and existing members are aware of the convictions of existing members of the club, which would mean there is no precedent in place for previous convictions being an issue.

Abbeydale Golf Club.

It is understood that by Palmer’s request, a copy of the relevant minutes from the admissions meeting have now been sent to him on behalf of the golf club.

He feels he has been unfairly victimised but says his focus is to shed light on a process for membership he rendered ‘archaic’. Palmer says he has since received a number of messages of support from members of the club and a number of invitations to join other Sheffield golf clubs.

“It’s not about me anymore,” Palmer said. “I don’t want to be a member at Abbeydale. Why would I give them my money?

“This is an archaic rule that allows people to blackball you. I’ve been told other people have had the same problems.

“Nobody in this day and age should be rejected from a golf club out of hand. If there’s a waiting list, you wait. I was happy to do that and I’ve always been courteous. As long as you’re courteous and you follow the rules of that club, there’s no reason you should be denied.

“And if they’ve got an issue with something, you have to have the right of reply.

“This isn’t about me being entitled. I was prepared to wait if there was any waiting list, but they’ve just denied my application out of hand without a right of reply.

“I’ve had messages from all sort of people, including two well-known golf pros, asking what the hell is going on. They know all this is not right.

“I’m in a position to speak out. I feel if I don’t, then I’m as bad as them.”

The Abbeydale Golf Club website makes clear they ‘currently have vacancies in most membership categories’.

They are understood to have instructed a solicitor over the issue.

In a statement sent to The Star, a spokesperson for Abbeydale Golf Club said: “We received an application for membership of AGC which is a private members club from Carlton Palmer.

“AGC followed a normal process regarding the membership application which was rejected at a board meeting on 1 March 2022. In the normal way we informed his proposer of the outcome. Carlton Palmer has been treated as we would any other applicant in similar circumstances.

“We wrote to Carlton Palmer telling him of the reasons for the rejection. The reasons included reference to information that is freely available in the media regarding his previous conduct. We will not disclose a copy of that letter. That is a matter for Carlton Palmer.”