DETECTIVES have launched a probe into the finances of one of Lancashire’s top cricket leagues.
The police were called in after alleged “irregularities” were discovered in the accounts of the Northern Premier League.
One senior official – secretary and joint-treasurer Ann Gilfoyle – is understood to have been suspended pending the outcome of the investigation.
We believe a five-figure sum was unaccounted for. A source revealed the discrepancy only came to light after the league was unable to pay the bill for last season’s annual presentation dinner at Leyland Golf Club in October. The account, believed to be £2,500, has since been settled.
In a short statement last night, a league representative said: “Possible financial irregularities came to light and the Northern Cricket League contacted the police.
“We are offering every possible assistance in their enquiries.”
Lancashire Police added: “We have received a complaint of financial irregularity relating to the Northern Premier Cricket League and are at the very early stages of an investigation.
“At this stage no arrests have been made and enquiries are on-going.”
The news was revealed to member clubs at a meeting with the league committee.
We have been told that the overwhelming reaction from club officials was one of “deep shock.”
Clive Henderson, president of Preston CC, revealed: “We’re all stunned that this has happened.
“I’m aware that the league secretary has been suspended.
“I’m shocked because she is a lovely person, she’s been like a sister to me.
“Many people feel she has been a wonderful secretary, the best we have ever had. She’s terrific and to hear she has been suspended is a real shock.”
At Blackpool, treasurer Stuart Ashworth added: “Obviously this is deeply shocking. We haven’t been told how much is involved.
“The secretary is a very popular lady and I gather she was also carrying out the job as treasurer because no-one else would do it. It’s very sad and very upsetting.”
The Northern Premier League has been running since 1952 and is considered to be one of the best in the North West, with many world famous cricketers having played for clubs, including Sir Richard Hadlee, Bill Alley, Hanif Mohammed, Malcolm Marshall, Rohan Kanhai, Maninder Singh and Richie Richardson.
Club officials say they are being kept up to date with the investigation, although some were unaware that the police had now been called in.
“It’s a big, big shock,” said one treasurer. “I think the league has only done what people would expect it to do in the cirumstances by calling in the police.
“I just hope all this can be sorted out. Ann Gilfoyle has worked tirelessly for the Northern League.”
Another club secretary added: “I knew there was an inquiry going on into the finances, but I wasn’t aware until now that the police had been called in.”
Ms Gilfoyle, who works as an extended schools co-ordinator at St Joseph’s RC Primary School in Wesham near Kirkham, was not at school yesterday and was unavailable for comment at her home in Blackburn.