TRUSTED Ian Warren was tasked with keeping Pompey Ladies FC afloat and winning sponsorship cash for the club.
Instead the 58-year-old plundered £17,000 from the accounts while treasurer, leaving the club in dire straits.
Trusted to pay FA fees, match officials and venues, he was given blank cheques to co-sign by those who respected him.
But now his reputation is in tatters after pleading guilty to a fraud that shocked volunteers who poured goodwill into running the community club.
Chairman Mick Williams, the former director of Pompey Supporters’ Trust who stepped in after the fraud, said the club had been betrayed.
He said: ‘It’s killed a bit of the good time that we’ve had knowing that somebody the club had trusted betrayed their trust. The man’s a slug. He took money from the parents to buy the kids warm jackets and they never got them because he took the money.’
A judge spared Warren jail after hearing the salesman would lose his £3,000-a-month job if he was locked up and would not be able to pay cash back.
Warren’s shocking breach of trust was discovered in June 2014 when a cheque bounced.
And in September that year the FA and venues started complaining they had not been paid by Pompey Ladies, which has seven youth teams with 100 children, along with a first, development and foundation teams.
The club demanded an explanation but Warren said he was waiting for a new chequebook. This was ‘clearly untrue’, said Edward Elton, prosecuting at Portsmouth Crown Court.
He said on one day in August 2013, Warren took out £3,100 from the club’s account and £3,000 was paid into his.
Mr Elton said: ‘This was a pattern of Mr Warren using that money for his own ends, as well as the club.’
Volunteers demanded a meeting with Warren but he did not attend. In September he quit as treasurer, a position he had held since May 2012.
The court heard he made 127 cash withdrawals – totalling £37,786. But only £17,000 of this made up the fraud. Just £214 was left in the club’s account.
Warren, now of Whitstand Bay View, Torpoint, Cornwall, has already paid £8,000 back and was ordered to pay £3,500 in seven days with £1,000 a month in compensation until the rest is returned.
Recorder Shamim Qureshi said: ‘This gives you the chance to put right the wrong you have done.’
He handed Warren a 12-month prison sentence suspended for two years.
Howard Barrington-Clark, defending Warren, said: ‘He became enmeshed in a financial vortex of pay-day loans.
‘He was just plummeting ever downwards at greater speed and looked upon the ladies’ club as the panacea.’
Mr Barrington-Clark added Warren, who admitted fraud, took cash out and intended to repay the club. He paid back £8,000 before police investigated.
Team manager applauds title race win in face of fraud
DESPITE facing financial ‘extinction’ as a club, the first team stormed to a league title.
Pompey Ladies FC’s first team manager Perry Northeast said the fraud made the players determined to win the FA Women’s Premier League Southern Division – which they did.
He said: ‘They were facing extinction but we won somehow.
‘It’s credit to the players and coaches’ level of hard work. It was very difficult.
‘We didn’t know if we were going to make it through the season.’