'A sorry mess' - Chesterfield's commercial chief leaves club after 'falsified' raffle
Chesterfield have announced a member of staff has left the club following an internal investigation into a raffle for a place at the club's pre-season training camp which was won by a "falsified" entry.
The Sky Bet League One club have taken swift action and said their head of commercial and marketing, Kevin Fitzgerald, has left the club after a supporter spotted that the winner for a place on the training camp in Hungary possibly did not exist.
"After a thorough internal investigation, I can now confirm that the person responsible for this total farce has now left the football club," said Chesterfield director and company secretary Ashley Carson in a statement on the club's official website.
Chesterfield released a statement on Monday apologising after announcing earlier this month that the competition, for which only four tickets had been sold, had been won by Surrey-based James Higgins.
The club had even sent him a "get well soon" message, in a press release issued earlier this month, because Mr Higgins was apparently too ill to attend the training camp in Hungary.
Carson said that action was being taken after "a recent unsuccessful supporters' competition and subsequent misleading outcome of the activity".
"Following on from my statement on Monday, I am still reeling from the shameful incident that has attracted nationwide headlines for the football club for all the wrong reasons," said Carson, who had been personally tipped off by a supporter who had "concerns" about the competition.
His statement added: "Kevin Fitzgerald has been a hard-working, respected, likeable employee who has, for some reason, made a massive error of judgement and has subsequently paid the consequences for his actions. The board were unaware of his actions and have taken swift action after uncovering the truth.
"I do hope that we can look for a replacement to head our commercial department, move forward and pick up the pieces from the whole sorry mess.
"Finally, I want to confirm that all other lotteries/raffles run by the club, which are so valuable to providing funds, are in no way affected by this isolated incident. "
An earlier press release posted on the club's site on July 14 read: "Spare a thought for Surrey-based Spireite James Higgins, who won the raffle for a couple of places on the club's pre-season training camp in Hungary.
"James was due to fly out with the party last weekend, but illness prevented him from travelling. It was hoped that he and a friend would be able to travel a few days later in time to watch Wednesday's practice match against Limassol, but he failed to recover in time.
"James, who is naturally very disappointed to have missed out on the trip, will be invited to a game during the forthcoming season as a guest of the club and be treated to hospitality.
"As a gesture of goodwill, all those who entered the raffle are entitled to a refund. Please contact the club to make the necessary arrangements."