Abergwili FC members reveal fight for survival after treasurer's fraud
MEMBERS of a football club have spoken of their fight for survival after being brought to the brink of ruin.
Abergwili FC's former treasurer Lesley Jayne Parry admitted fraud and theft at Carmarthen Magistrates Court.
Speaking to the Journal this week, club chairman John Carmody said: "Through the breach of trust placed in the treasurer by the club, effectively, at the start of the 2011/12 season, the club was bankrupt and its very existence was jeopardised."
It was admitted in court Parry stole £1,650 – but her solicitor denied she had taken any more. He said she was not competent to do the job and proper book-keeping procedures were not in place.
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Mr Carmody said the club committee and others had rallied around and, with hard work, fund raising and prudent spending, they had survived.
"The past year has been a difficult time for the club, but through hard work, goodwill and unity it has turned its fortunes around and can look forward to the coming season," he added.
Magistrates in Carmarthen heard that 34-year-old former treasurer Parry failed to bank any cash handed in or money from the club's annual dinners and charity raffles. During her time at the club, she had not paid for players' insurance and rent for a training pitch for more than three years.
Abergwili FC even played two games, not realising they had been suspended from the league for not paying their subscription.
The court also heard Parry took money from a Christmas fund at her work — but paid the cash back in time.
Parry, of High Street, Abergwili, pleaded guilty to fraud by abusing her position and to theft between May 2008 and September last year.
She also pleaded guilty to fraud by abusing her position in charge of a Christmas savings scheme in 2009.
Prosecutor Ellie Morgan said Parry became treasurer of Abergwili FC in May 2008.
But it was not until 2011 that the club called in external auditors after Carmarthenshire Council complained it was owed £3,257.
"The absence of structure to the book keeping and the lack of records and invoices made it very difficult," she said.
She said the auditors found £530 in cheques that had never been sent and cheque book stubs did not match some payments.
Parry also failed to pay for the club's insurance, she said.
"In that time, two players made claims but received no payment because the insurance was not in place," Ms Morgan added.
Defence solicitor Aled Owen said it was accepted by the defence that she stole £1,650 — from two cheques made out to herself and the proceeds of a charity raffle.
"The prosecution has indicated they are of the view of higher figures involved — but they have failed to demonstrate that and evidence that," he said. "Effectively, this lady was appointed to be treasurer of Abergwili club. No one else wanted the job."
He said there were no proper book-keeping procedures in place.
"She lost control. The whole thing went into a spiral of maladministration and difficulties for her," he added.
"That in itself is not dishonest or criminal — possibly, it's civil, in that she was not competent for the job she was doing."
He said it only became a criminal matter when Parry's partner filed for an Individual Voluntary Arrangement to avoid bankruptcy which left them in a difficult financial position. Mr Owen added: "It's to her great shame that she used certain amounts from the club."
Parry is due to be sentenced at Swansea Crown Court on November 2.