As AFC Fylde prepare today for the biggest day in their history, a judge has revealed the cteam’s trip to Wembley never have happened after a quarter of a million pounds was stolen from the club to fund an accountant’s obsession with a webcam model and to fuel cocaine binges.
Andrew Barnbrook stole nearly £250,000 from AFC Fylde to fund his obsession.
He was jailed for 32 months.
Barnbrook, 38, siphoned off cash from AFC Fylde to his personal bank account for up to two-and-a-half years before the scam was uncovered after he was sacked.
Preston Crown Court heard the club would have gone out of business if it had not been part of an umbrella company, Tangerine Holdings, which borrowed the cash to cover the shortfall.
Today AFC Fylde will take on Salford City at Wembley Stadium in a play-off to reach League Two.
It is the biggest game in the club’s history and, if victorious, would see the club playing in the league for the first time.
Barnbrook became “infatuated” with Manchester webcam model Victoria Sinclair and spent between £50,000 and £70,000 on her including splashing out on a £7,000 Chanel handbag, a Rolex watch and Armani goods on trips to Harrods in London.
He also paid towards a new car for Ms Sinclair although their relationship was never physical, the court heard.
Fuelled by cocaine and alcohol, Barnbrook also enjoyed drinking in champagne bars and spent cash on other webcam models and lent money to one.
Rachael Woods, defending, said: “He has committed an extremely foolish offence but a serious offence which will have long-term repercussions.
“Up until 2015 Mr Barnbrook had been living a pretty quiet and law abiding life.
“He worked up to his position at the time in the accountancy profession and had been employed in that type of work since he was 17.
“Once he started using cocaine, a drug he could ill afford on his salary, he began to steal money from the company in dribs and drabs, and then took more and more in larger amounts.
“In the midst of drug and drink dependency he became a completely different person and was isolated from family and friends.
“He became very lonely and formed a very ill-advised relationship with Ms Sinclair.
“Mr Barnbrook became infatuated with her.
“In his eyes this was a relationship, in her eyes it was a business relationship.
“While the defendant does not seek to blame Ms Sinclair, it was quite apparent she was manipulating him for all he could get.
He says she was aware that in order to fund these gifts and the relationship he was stealing from the company.
She disputes that.
“In his mind this was a relationship he was prepared to risk everything for.”
Barnbrook, of Red Bank Road, Bispham, pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to fraud on dates between September 2015 and January 2018.
Sentencing, Judge Andrew Jefferies QC told him: “Anybody who has an interest in football knows that small football clubs struggle financially.
“The victim personal statement from a representative of that club says what one would have expected.
“Had they not been part of an umbrella business they would have gone under.
“What did you with the money? You stuck it up your nose with cocaine, you drank at champagne bars and befriended a live sexcam model.
“You were aware of the consequences and the level of criminality.
“At the age of 38 you have lost your good character and will never ever work again in your profession.”