Andy Pilley, the owner of Carlisle United's first League One opponents Fleetwood Town, has been jailed for 13 years over a £15m fraud.

Pilley was sentenced in Preston Crown Court today.

The businessman appeared alongside three other people who were all convicted in May of a multi-million pound fraud involving the mis-selling of energy contracts.

Pilley, 53, was guilty of two counts of running a business with the intention of defrauding creditors.

He was also found guilty of one count of false representation and another count of being concerned with the retention of criminal property.

He was jailed for a total of 13 years and disqualified from being a director for the same period.

Pilley has been owner of Fleetwood Town since 2003 and bankrolled their rise from non-league to the third tier of English football.

He resigned as chairman after his conviction in May, and the club issued a statement in light of his sentencing.

They said: "Fleetwood Town Football Club acknowledges the sentencing in the court case involving former club chairman, Andy Pilley.

"The club would like to reiterate convictions are against individuals and not Fleetwood Town FC, or any of the businesses associated with them, and will continue to operate as normal.

"Fleetwood Town remain in communication with the EFL and will be making no further comment at this time."

Pilley appeared in court alongside his sister Michelle Davidson, 49, and two other associates - Lee Qualter, 52, from Cleveleys in Lancashire and Joel Chapman, 38, from Willerby in Yorkshire.

The court heard that Pilley and his associates had carried out the fraud through a "web" of companies that misled small business owners and deceived them into signing long-term energy contracts between 2014-16.

They targeted charities, including guest houses and children's charities, and companies that provided support to disabled people, the court heard.

Pilley's barrister Jonathan Laidlow told the court that the businessman was "fundamentally a good man" who was "undoubtedly scarred by the mistakes he has made."

He added that the convictions would be "humiliating and humbling for him and a very severe punishment."

Michael Bichard, chairman of National Trading Standards, said: "Small business owners were deliberately deceived and locked in to contracts that were long-term and expensive, leaving many businesses struggling to pay the bills and sadly driving some business owners into making the difficult decision to cease trading.

"This is not a victimless crime - small business owners have lost vast sums of money to this fraud and many businesses have gone under."

Pilley also owns Irish club Waterford United, who issued a statement similar to that made by Fleetwood, stressing that they will also "continue to operate as normal".

Fleetwood face Carlisle at Brunton Park on the opening day of the 2023/24 League One season at Brunton Park on Saturday, August 5.