Cheating Boston United manager Steve Evans of The Cloisters, Eye, Peterborough, banned by the Football Association from involvement in the game for 20 months after Boston cheated their way to promotion into the Football League back in 2002, has now been convicted of involvement in a fraud stretching over a period of at least four years and involving a sum the court accepted as close to £350,000. Evans has been given a one year gaol sentence, suspended for two years. The judge ruled that he felt it unfair to send Evans down when his co-conspirator was escaping a custodial sentence. Evans was ordered to pay £1,000 costs.
Pat Malkinson of Spilsby Road, Boston, chairman of the cheats at the time, avoided being sent to prison on that old escape route beloved of Guinness chairmen - a tame doctor pleading a case of "ill health". Malkinson was given a two year sentence, suspended for two years, but has been given a year to repay just over £349,000 and also has to pay £27,000 costs.
During the trial the court was told :
The motive for the cheat was not one of personal greed. At the time the club was going through financial difficulties and was at risk of going under. By depriving the revenue of tax and national insurance the club was able to prop up what you may decide was an ailing business. By concealing the true extent of payment to players and staff, the club could afford to falsely inflate its budget and attract players who would otherwise be beyond their grasp. They undoubtedly secured a competitive advantage, an advantage over rival football clubs and their players and supporters at a time when promotion to higher leagues was seen as key to the club's survival.
Yesterday chartered accountant and ex-payroll manager at Boston United Brian James, and fellow accountant Ian Lee, were cleared by a jury of involvement in the fraud. Previously the judge had directed that the club's General Manager John Blackwell be acquitted of the same charges owing to a lack of evidence.
Boston United currently lie 23rd in League Two. One can but hope relegation back to where they should be will finally provide closure on this whole sorry episode of persistant and repeated cheating at the expense of other clubs and the sport of football.
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