A CRISIS-hit children’s football club in Hucknall is desperately trying to raise funds — after their volunteer treasurer stole £11,000 which would have been spent on new kit.
Amanda Briody (51), of Ward Avenue, Hucknall pleaded guilty at Nottingham Crown Court to fraud by abuse of her position as treasurer of the long-running Rolls-Royce Leisure Junior Football Club, which works with hundreds of local youngsters.
The mother-of-five had been involved with the outfit for 12 years but began dipping into club funds two years ago because of money problems.
She was given a 12-month suspended prison sentence and ordered to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work in the community.
The club says they cannot now afford to buy kit for their 16 teams, ranging from under-sevens to under-15s — leaving dozens of youngsters disappointed on the eve of the new season.
Sonal Ahya (prosecuting) said the club’s committee became suspicious about the accounts and Briody, who is known as Mandy, was asked last November to keep a cash book detailing the money coming in and out.
The court heard that Briody made numerous excuses for the missing money before she finally confessed to the theft in January.
When the club vice-chairman visited Briody at her home address, she was ‘very, very upset’, it was claimed. She handed him a piece of paper with the figure £11,401 written on it and then admitted this was the amount she owed to the club.
Questioned by police, Briody said the stealing had ‘escalated’. She had taken smaller amounts at first but she then took up to £400 in one month as things ‘got out of hand’.
Briody took up her voluntary role as treasurer when her children played for the club. For about ten years there were no problems at all with the accounts, the court was told.
In mitigation, Emma Coverley said Briody had been trustworthy and honest as she did what was asked of her for most of the time she held the position.
But her daughter died tragically and, after the breakdown of her marriage, she found herself in financial difficulty. It was then that she began to use the club’s finances to pay for ‘necessities’.
Briody, who had five children with her ex-husband, to whom she had been married since 1989, received little financial help and was left to support the children alone.
She was claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance and managed to get a job as a mid-day supervisor for five-and-a-half hours a week. “She accepts that what she did was wrong,” said Ms Coverley.
Passing sentence, Judge James Sampson said he took Briody’s previously impeccable character into account. He told her: “You have entered your plea of guilty at the first opportunity. I accept you are full of shame. There is an additional, powerful and personal mitigation. You have suffered to a degree your fair share of tragedy, the death of your child, the breakdown of your marriage and consequent financial difficulties.”
He added that he was ‘just persuaded’ to suspend Briody’s prison sentence.
The club’s general secretary, Michelle Corah, said the theft had come as a massive blow and it had been a ‘very tough time’.
She added: “We were hoping to get all our teams a new kit but now we can’t. It’s a great pity for the players.
“At the moment we are managing to hold our own and we are not going under. We’ll just have to cope with less money and each team will now have to get their own sponsors for new kits.”
The club has changed its system so that subscriptions are now paid by bank transfer. This means that the treasurer no longer deals with cash.
Mrs Corah added that she and Briody were friends and the stealing had come as a big surprise to her.
“I feel sorry for her now,” said Mrs Corah. “She must have got herself into such a dilemma and did not know how to get out of it.”
Any businesses or individuals who would like to offer financial support or sponsorship to the Rolls-Royce junior club is asked to e-mail Mrs Corah on firstname.lastname@example.org.