A YOUTH football club has vowed to 'look to the future' after being tricked into forfeiting 20 years' worth of savings.
Laurel Park FC suffered a horrendous scam earlier this year when the club's treasurer - who has since stood down - was duped into handing over £28,000 from a Barclays bank account.
Andy Dykes, club secretary, told The Chronicle how plans were in place to use the funds to improve the ground and the pavilion.
He said: “The treasurer was 82 at the time and he was devastated when it happened. His initial reaction was to pay the money back himself, but we told him we wouldn’t allow it. It was an honest mistake and we are not the only people to be hit this way.
“We were absolutely devastated. It is money we have built up as a club over 20 years. It was a fund we intended to use for making improvements to the ground and the pavilion, which we will obviously have to put on hold now."
Laurel Park was conned into making a series of payments, after a sophisticated scammer used email accounts - posing as club officials - forcing the former treasurer to send the hard-earned money.
The club, which has 27 youth teams, has since been forced to suspend all spending and Mr Dykes went onto explain how he would be very surprised to see the money return after criticising the response from the bank.
“It is a difficult process. It looks like the scammers have been able to cover their tracks very well," he added.
“We are still on the case with Barclays. Because the button was pressed by a member of the club to transfer the funds it all looks above board.
“Everyone has slightly different views on this, but as secretary and from what I have seen from Barclays so far, it has been appalling. They don’t show any care or interest in helping us out at all.
"I think we have to look to the future and if we do see money come back to us we will have to look at it as a bonus."
Barclays says it acted swiftly to recover the remaining funds in the accounts when the case was reported, with only £8.90 being salvaged.
Laurel Park members now have their sights set on their community fun day (July 1) and Mr Dykes says they have no intention of giving up after suffering such a horrific loss.
He said: “It is sad, but we need to build again. We will bounce back. We could have thrown in the towel but that is not what we are about.
“We are the only youth football club in Lower Earley and it is important we get children playing football. We are responsible for more than 400 kids, so it is important we move forward.
“We don’t want money, we are not in dire straits. We’ve decided not to do crowdfunding. We can build ourselves back up again out of this mess.
“It is devastating, but we are starting to find positives from it. When it first happened it really got us down, but the support we have had from the community has been incredible."