In response to the stories in yesterday’s Daily Mail, the Club has issued the following statement.
The story in yesterday’s Mail attempts to paint Fylde as a club that does not care for the welfare or safety of its women employees and as one who failed to do its due diligence in this respect regarding James Rowe’s appointment as their manager in March this year. This could not be further from the truth.
Unfortunately, certain people from Chesterfield have been touting this story around various media outlets for some time, and the Club Chairman, David Haythornthwaite has had to field a huge amount of questions over the past few weeks from National newspapers, with most of them accepting the explanation and reasoning given but, for whatever reason Matt Hughes from the Mail hasn’t, and despite being given assurances that we would be able to give an official club comment if the story ran, we weren’t, which we suppose suits their ‘headline agenda’.
The article is misleading and inaccurate in so many ways. It seems clear that Chesterfield’s intention is to try and justify their actions and smear James’ name.
Firstly, they claim Fylde didn’t do their due diligence and did not contact Chesterfield for a reference. This is flawed in many ways. Firstly, as Chesterfield are fully aware, James and themselves had reached a compromise agreement regarding his departure, which means neither party were able to discuss with anyone else the terms of that agreement. Once James made us aware of that agreement, we knew it would be futile calling them for such a reference.
Secondly, however, we did make contact with other people in the game that have worked with James, including our own Rowe, Danny, who has been associated with Fylde for many years and was at Chesterfield throughout this period. He is someone whose opinion we trust and value, and as we said when we announced James’ appointment, he spoke very highly of him. We obviously also spoke to James on several occasions and met with both him and his wife together.
Since Chesterfield seemed to have breached their duty of trust with James, this has enabled us to talk to other sources regarding the internal disciplinary hearing, and we believe that there is no record anywhere regarding the allegations in these articles.
As for Chesterfield claiming they have written a letter to the FA questioning James Rowe’s behaviour and calling for ‘a formal review of safeguarding policies’, we find that hard to believe, as we have never been contacted by the FA on this matter, and if not true, is a pretty cheap shot.
With regards to the further article published in this morning’s Mail, we would comment as follows. Firstly, James Rowe has received no ‘personal treatment’, with its obvious insinuations from a female physio. The article purports to suggest that there are a bevy of ‘young female physios on internships at the club’, and again, this is totally untrue as we only have one who works on a daily basis under close supervision of the Head of Medical, Gareth Thomas. Both these people are more than happy to provide whatever evidence is needed in regard to this matter. As for not informing AFC Fylde staff, and that they were not aware of these allegations against James, we would simply refer the Mail to the AFC Fylde statement on the night of James’ appointment. No-one associated with the Club in any way was not aware of the situation.
Regarding the criticism about failing to respond to the complaint about a ‘sex offender’, again this is totally untrue, and in fact, a fabricated lie. The Club were made aware of the person in question after a complaint from a mother who was concerned when she heard he was attending Fylde matches. The Club met with the mother in question in early May – however, before doing so, we consulted with Lancashire Police, who have a special department that deals with these matters, we spoke to Mark Ives at The National League and to the FA, expressing our concerns and asking advice on what we should do. After meeting with the complainant, she was satisfied that we were aware and that we were, based on the advice given by the aforementioned bodies, doing the right thing.
To try and link this incident with other incidents as the Mail has done, without allowing the Club to give any formal response or attempting to interview the individuals in question, is nothing short of despicable, and we expect everyone involved and the Club itself to receive a full and formal apology from The Daily Mail.
The Club will be making no further comments on this situation other than to say that we stand fully behind James Rowe and his family at this very difficult time for them. It will, however, not, as it attempts to do, distract us from focusing all our efforts on Sunday’s game against Boston.