WELSH PREMIER FOOTBALL

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CARMARTHEN Town manager Mark Aizlewood has been found guilty with three others of fraud charges after jointly making £5m in a fake apprenticeship scheme.

Former Wales international Aizlewood, 57, and Paul Sugrue, 56 - whose past clubs include Manchester City, Middlesbrough and Cardiff City - promised to help struggling youngsters gain an NVQ in activity leadership through their company, Luis Michael Training.

They told colleges across the country they would provide full-time training in football coaching as well as work experience and a £95 weekly stipend to 3,800 students.

But hundreds of the students on their books didn't exist, many lived at the opposite end of the country from the training scheme, while others were doing just two to three hours of study a week.

Four men, including Aizlewood, denied the charges during a four-month trial at Southwark Crown Court. Aizlewood faced two counts of conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation and was convicted of one count but cleared of the other. Judge Michael Tomlinson described the case as "very serious" and adjourned sentencing until February 26.

Aizlewood told the jury he had been preoccupied by his late wife's spiralling mental health problems before her suicide in June last year and told the court he had neither the "time or inclination" to carry out such a complex fraud during the period.

He described how his wife, Penelope, was suffering from alcohol and drug problems, as well as depression.

Aizlewood said: "I'm a director of a company, but, and it's a big but, my main thought pattern was what I have to do - I have to get done quickly and get back because of the situation there."

He continued: "It just made Luis Michael, in many ways, of no significance. I had bigger battles to fight and therefore, yes I had to do my job and do my duties, but I'm not so focused on it."