Youth chairman frustrated at being fobbed off by Suffolk FA over financial safeguarding proposals

  Posted: 12.10.21 at 10:50 by Derek Davis

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A youth football chairman and coach has spoken of his frustration at feeling fobbed off by Suffolk FA after he raised concerns over financial safeguarding at grassroots level.

Lee Partridge, chairman at East Bergholt youth football club, and Ollie Langham, a coach with Ipswich Exiles, met with a couple of Suffolk FA officials in July to outline a number of proposals brought about after finding issues at a former club he coached, and other problems aired by fellow grassroots clubs' officials.

However, despite assurances that Suffolk FA would take the proposals seriously and follow up with board members, nothing has progressed.

Mr Partridge, who also coached peninsula youth players at Brantham Athletic, said: "I am disappointed and frustrated. yet not surprised, that Suffolk FA haven’t engaged as I would have expected considering this very serious and real topic in any official capacity.

"The offer to meet with the board and council has fallen on deaf ears yet again despite many offers over the last few years.

"Nearly two months has passed and the only contact and feedback I’ve had from our meeting with Suffolk FA is being asked to confirm our proposals again, despite it all being recorded."

With Suffolk FA chief executive Richard Neal away this week he was not available to comment and a spokesman could only say that: "The matter is ongoing."

Meanwhile, Partridge, who works in the financial industry for a leading world bank, has revealed the depth of his despair at being fobbed off by the Suffolk FA and concerns they are not addressing serious

He said: "Trying to work proactively with an organisation that appears to be putting up a brick wall is hard and pointless. If things aren’t discussed in an open and transparent manner how do we ever learn, improve and make grassroots football safer?

"31 years of banking and financial experience, ranging from my first ever job as a basic bank teller to trading financial products in the city has given me a thorough knowledge of the banking system, accounts and how money works in the system.

"Due to the responsibility and regulation involved it has also taught me about money laundering rules and what constitutes financial red flags.

I cannot believe anyone would think it’s acceptable or competent and sensible financial behaviour to knowingly keep £1,000’s of fundraising off a football clubs or any reputable organisations accounts for two years, with absolutely no reference to the true cash holdings on annual accounts produced. Accounts produced that has never shown the true financial standing or sustainability of the football club."

One of the proposals suggested was for Mr Partridge and others, to address the full board and council, produce evidence and talk about their experiences and ask challenging questions.

He said: "Would the Suffolk FA chairman Phil Lawler, CEO Richard Neal or finance director Nigel Johnson support any club under their affiliation that knowingly had these financial practices in place?

"I would definitely hope not and therefore expect them to condemn these practices, as the only people who would lose out would be the players, parents, officials, supporters and sponsors of the club, the very people Accreditation/ Charter Standards are meant to protect.

"We are trying to raise awareness of these dangerous and far more common financial situations that occur within grassroots football therefore I am really struggling to understand why Suffolk FA haven’t engaged or embraced us and our proposals for the financial safeguarding of all clubs within our county?"

*Do you have a story to tell, or concerns to share about your dealing with Suffolk FA? Contact: [email protected]

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