Andy Pilley: English football club owner of Fleetwood Town jailed for fraud

Andy Pilley
Andy Pilley (Image: Nick Potts / PA Wire)

The owner and former chairman of Fleetwood Town FC has been jailed for a multi-million pound fraud which “duped” firms into expensive energy contracts.

A trading standards investigation found Andy Pilley mis-sold gas and electricity contracts and posted fake customer comments on websites.

Pilley, 53, of Thornton-Cleveleys, Lancashire, resigned as chairman and club director of the League One side following his conviction last month.

He was jailed for 13 years.

Pilley was found guilty at Preston Crown Court of two counts of running a business with the intention of defrauding creditors, one count of false representation, and one count of being concerned with the retention of criminal property.

Three other people were also jailed for their role in the scam.

On sentencing, Judge Knowles KC, said a “salesforce of cold-calling liars and manipulators duped very large numbers of honest and decent proprietors” into “long and expensive contracts” for their gas and electricity amounting to tens of millions of pounds.

The judge said Pilley “devised and enforced an elaborate pretence that the sales team were independent of the supply companies”.

“The truth was that he owned them and called the shots,” he added.

‘Squalid lies, greed and fraud’

The judge told the court that while the supply companies were regulated by Ofgem, the sales companies were unregulated.

He told Pilley, who went to prison for four months in 1998 for conspiracy to steal from the Post Office when he was a counter clerk, “yours could have been the remarkable story of redemption”.

“Instead it is a sordid tale of squalid lies, greed and fraud,” he said.

The defendant was listed as a director of Fleetwood-based energy firm BES Utilities, an independent commercial utility supplier which provides services to businesses.

The firm has been contacted by the BBC for comment, but previously said it was “important to stress that the convictions in this case relate solely to individuals and not to any company”.

They added he was no longer employed by any of the companies, and they “will continue to trade as normal”.

Pilley was made chairman of Fleetwood Town in 2004.

Chief executive Steve Curwood replaced Pilley as chairman after he stepped down.

Following sentencing, Fleetwood Town said: “The club would like to reiterate convictions are against individuals and not Fleetwood Town FC, or any of the businesses associated with them, and will continue to operate as normal.”

It added the club “remains in communication with the EFL in relation to the implications of the convictions and will now be making an application to the League in relation to a change of control”.

Trading Standards launched the investigation into the fraud in 2014.

Kate Jones, of the North West Regional Trading Standards, told BBC Radio Lancashire she was “relieved and absolutely delighted” on behalf of all the small business owners who were victims of the fraud.

“I’m glad that we have been able to help them get justice,” she said.

“It’s been a slog to get here, but it’s been worth absolutely every day for the verdicts,” she added.

Lord Michael Bichard, chair of National Trading Standards (NTS), said: “Small business owners were deliberately deceived and locked in to long-term and expensive energy contracts, leaving them struggling to pay the bills and causing many businesses to go under.”

A mention hearing about compensation and confiscation orders is expected to be held in due course, the NTS added.

Source: bbc.co.uk

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