Former Leeds United player denies football apprentice fraud

Mark Aizlewood
Mark Aizlewood

A former Leeds United footballer has denied playing a role in an alleged multi-million pound fraud involving apprentice schemes.

Mark Aizlewood, 57, a defender who won 39 caps for Wales, pleaded not guilty to fraud by false representation in connection with football-based apprenticeships.

Aizlewood, who also played for Charlton Athletic and Bristol City, appeared at London’s Southwark Crown Court alongside five others to answer charges brought after a Serious Fraud Office investigation.

Former Middlesbrough, Cardiff City and Newport County player Paul Sugrue, 55, of Cardiff, also denied the allegation.

Aizlewood, of Aberdare, Mid Glamorgan, and his alleged accomplices are accused of making false representations to further education colleges to make a gain.

The charge relates to the Coventry-based Learning and Skills Council and its successor, the Skills Funding Agency, which were both allegedly defrauded between November 1, 2008, and September 30, 2011.

Jack William Harper, 29, of Southport, Merseyside, Christopher Paul Martin, 52, of Catmore, West Berkshire, and Keith Anthony Williams, 44, of Cemaes Bay, Anglesey, also denied the count.

Steven Paul Gooding, 52, of Bridgwater, Somerset, will enter a plea to the alleged conspiracy on October 31.

A second charge of conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation was also denied by Aizlewood, Sugrue, Martin and Williams.

It concerns making dishonest representations regarding the accounts of Luis Michael Associates and Luis Michael Training between January 1, 2009, and October 31, 2010.

Aizlewood, wearing a navy suit and a purple and white striped shirt, spoke only to deny the charges.

Harper also denied an additional count of fraud and one of using a false instrument, both of which he stands accused of alone.

They were all bailed to return for trial at the same court on September 4, 2017.