A Wythenshawe mother-of-five who stole more than £6,000 from a junior football club wept in court as she was spared jail.
Sharon Tomlinson, aged 41, of Delwood Gardens, Wythenshawe, admitted stealing from Benchill Celtic, when she was treasurer, leaving the club with just £5.96 in its account.
Tomlinson had been siphoning off cash for two years after taking over as treasurer at the club her son, who was killed in a road accident 11 years ago, had played for.
The club had established a memorial cup in her son’s honour.
Mr Recorder Crawford, imposing a 16 month suspended jail sentence said Tomlinson had committed a serious breach of trust.
He said: “You will know yourself, the great pleasure children get from playing football for an organised team. It is clear there will be consequences for these children.”
But he said he thought Tomlinson was remorseful and that her tears in court were genuine.
The court was told Tomlinson, who until her arrest was a cleaner at Manchester Airport, stole the cash to pay debts and there was no suggestion she was living a lavish lifestyle on the proceeds.
Mr Crawford made no order of compensation because of her financial situation but Tomlinson said she intended to pay back the money.
Mr Crawford said: “She knows what she has done to that community and if she wants to make amends she knows how to do it.”
The theft had left the junior football club, which owed in the region of £9,000 to a range of organisations, on the brink of collapse.
In a statement, the club said: “It has been extremely difficult to remain positive at times and the impact on the club has been much more than a financial one, with a real cloud hanging over us. However this cloud has now been lifted and we are back on track and the future looks bright.
“Our partners at Cheshire FA, Manchester Enterprise Academy and the Timperley and District League have been very supportive and without them this journey would have been a lot more difficult.
“But the real and sincerest thanks of all go to the parents, players, managers and committee of Benchill Celtic JFC who have stuck with us, supported our efforts to get back on track and ensure that the club will be here for a long time to come.
“As with any episode we draw a line under this, we move on and whilst we still face some challenges the Green Army marches on.”