A former Manchester City executive has been jailed after stealing more than £100,000 from the football club to pay for her wedding and use for ‘retail therapy’.
Fiona Barclay had been earning up to £30,000 a year working as a business development manager for the Premier League champions within the club’s hospitality department, but was actually taking home a lot more money.
The 33-year-old, who is currently pregnant, was discovered to be swindling cash from the club and has now been put behind bars after being handed an 18-month sentence, which she will serve half of in prison.
After getting caught Barclay told police that she had used the stolen money to pay for her wedding and also bought gifts for her husband and family.
The mum-to-be wept during her hearing at Manchester Crown Court before she was imprisoned.
The court heard how the law caught up with Barclay, who is from Scotland but now lives in Manchester, when accountants reported a suspicious transaction after a refund of £25,000 was issued last year.
Prosecutor Ellen Shaw said that the transaction stirred up suspicion ‘by the fact it was a large round number’.
When she was initially questioned about the transaction, Barclay admitted that she’d made an ‘error’ and apologised to the club. She admitted to depositing £15,000 of the sum into her own bank account and paid it back to the club.
But after investigating the incident further, the club found that Barclay had been siphoning money from them since June 2019 . Barclay underwent disciplinary proceedings at the club and was sacked in March last year.
It was discovered that she had stolen a total of £104,000 and the club still remain £89,000 down after she paid back the £15,000 . However, the court heard that Barclay has tried to contact City to pay back the money she stole, but has not heard back from them.
A criminal investigation was launched and it was during this that Barclay confessed to police she had used the money to pay for ‘various parts of her wedding’, and for purchasing ‘gifts for her husband and family’. She pleaded guilty to an offence of fraud by abuse of position.
Since being sacked last year, Barclay has gone on to secure another job at a travel firm, who she has informed about her conviction.
Defending, Patrick Buckley, appealed for Barclay to be spared from a prison sentence. He told the court that after moving from Scotland to take the job in Manchester, she began engaging in ‘retail therapy’ because she was ‘isolated’.
He said: “It seems that being hundreds and hundreds of miles away from home, isolated and lonely, solace was sought in retail therapy, the problem was that the retail therapy was at the expense of her employer.”
Mr Buckley claimed that Barclay was ‘utterly disgusted with herself’ and that the case had been ‘utterly heartbreaking’ for her and that her mental health had also suffered.
He added: “There is nothing in terms of reason or logical reason why she did what she did. It must have been inevitable that she would eventually be caught.”
Recorder Ciaran Rankin handed Barclay a prison sentence, telling her: “This is a tragedy, you have thrown so much away because of your dishonesty, and, I’m afraid, pure greed,
“You were employed in a good job, as a business development manager at Manchester City . Ultimately that was a job with some responsibility.”
The judge said that while relegation was not a word associated with Manchester City, Barclay had ‘relegated’ herself, he told her: “I’m afraid you have relegated yourself because of your greed and deception into the ranks of those who can no longer call themselves a person of good character.
“Despite everything that has been said on your behalf, there can only be an immediate custodial sentence. With great regret, Ms Barclay, please go with the officer.”
Barclay will now serve half of her 18-month sentence behind bars and will also be subject to an investigation under the Proceeds of Crime Act to see whether any of the sum she stole can be recouped.
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