Cheltenham Town legend Julian Alsop left apprentices 'out of pocket'
YOUNG would-be football coaches say they have been left thousands of pounds out of pocket by former Cheltenham Town footballer Julian Alsop.
Eighteen youngsters, aged 16 to 20, started the scheme run by Mr Alsop as part of his Footballers Careers business. It aimed to turn them into qualified sports coaches.
The 12-month course started in the summer of 2012 but Mr Alsop ended it early, in December of that year.
Mr Alsop played for the Robins from 2000 to 2003, and 2009-2010. He made 171 League and FA Cup appearances for the club. Using funding obtained from sources including Gloucestershire College, it is understood he was supposed to pay the lads £100 a week, as the course involved them coaching children in local schools.
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But the Cheltenham-based course collapsed and, despite efforts to claw back the money they say they are owed from him, the youngsters fear they will never get a penny.
Nineteen-year-old Declan Chick, of Wyman's Brook, Cheltenham, said: "It's a disgrace. I'm owed about £500 but some of the lads are owed a lot more than that.
"We're afraid we're never going to get it back. He promised us we were going to get it back in March but I never heard from him again. It was a lot of people's dreams – to be a football coach."
Daniel Beale, from Hucclecote, claimed he was owed about £1,000 by Mr Alsop.
The 19-year-old said: "I feel like he was just leading us on. Every time someone complained, he would say 'Ok, I'll take you down the job centre now then'.
Daniel said monthly payments to the lads were "very irregular". Sometimes, some of them were paid properly but many other times they were not.
Daniel's mother, Nicky Beale, said: "He needs to be exposed for what he's done to the lads.
"He put them back into unemployment. He devastated my lad's life at the time. It put him off football. I'm angry that he was allowed to do it.
"We accept that Daniel may never get his money from Mr Alsop but we want him publicly named and shamed – something that will stop anything like this happening again. These young people were floored."
She added that it had been a second let-down for Daniel as a previous electrician apprenticeship scheme he was on also folded.
Mrs Beale claimed Daniel and the other lads were led on a merry dance by the former Whaddon Road favourite.
She added that he appeared to have had no concern for the hurt he had caused, and said: "There's been no apology to anyone." Daniel, who has since found a temporary job with Cheltenham engineering firm Spirax Sarco, said Mr Alsop kept telling the boys that everything would be fine with the course, despite the apparent financial problems, but that he eventually dealt them a bitter blow by telling them it was to stop.
Daniel said: "I was unemployed for six months afterwards. I had put all of my eggs into one basket with that job.
"He called us in for a meeting and said he couldn't do it anymore.
"That was pretty crushing. I would rather he had been straight with us earlier."
The teenager claimed that he then discovered Mr Alsop was continuing to offer coaching courses to youngsters because, ironically, a member of staff at the job centre offered him one when he went there looking for work.
It is understood that former Cheltenham Town player Shane Duff, who provided coaching and mentoring for the apprenticeship scheme, and other adults who supported the scheme, are also owed a lot of money.
The course began at All Saints' Academy but was also staged at Bishop's Cleeve Football Club and the Oasis Youth Centre in Hester's Way.
A spokesman for Bishop's Cleeve Football Club said it was owed £3,000 by Mr Alsop. He said the club still owed money to some of its players as a result of financial problems the matter caused last year.
He added: "It put us in a bad position. We're only a small club so that's an awful lot of money to us."
Mr Alsop failed to return the Echo's phone calls and emails, over several weeks.
Our reporter tried to talk to him at his home.
But the former Robins' star – the club's all-time leading Football League goalscorer – made it perfectly clear he did not want to discuss the matter – issuing a four-letter expletive before quickly slamming the door shut.