A football club has been ordered to hand over more than £7,000 in unpaid wages to a player after its contract with him was branded a “sham”.

Judge John Hildebrand criticised Brighton side Whitehawk FC’s terms of employment for footballer Duncan Culley before ordering they pay him the £7,429.69 he was owed when he played for them last year.

Mr Culley, who is a striker for Hampton and Richmond Borough Football Club, was a left midfielder for the semi-professional club in National League South for six games at the beginning of the season last year before he was sent on loan to Lewes in September.

But he launched legal action against Whitehawk claiming at a tribunal that his bosses at the club made an “unauthorised deduction of wages”.

Mr Culley, who also used to play for Bromley FC, said he agreed to play for Whitehawk for £500 a week and signed a contract, according to legal papers.

But the tribunal heard the club’s alleged final version of the deal was to pay £35 a week instead. The told him to claim the rest of the money by invoice as a “relocation allowance” of £1,860 per month.

This equated to £464 a week.

Mr Culley was paid for three weeks at the end of August but he became “increasingly concerned” when he did not receive any more payments.

He pressed them for further payment but they responded by letter in November saying they were “unable to pay the invoices for relocation on the grounds the contract with the club was “illegal” and breached “Inland Revenue rules.”

Mr Hildebrand said: “I find the arrangement between the claimant [Mr Culley] and respondent [the club] was a sham.

“The sums he claimed represent his wages. There is no basis for saying that he was paid a relocation allowance.

“Mr Culley was entitled to have the full amount paid direct to him.”

His judgment also dismissed claims by the club that the player was “under obligation” to move from his home in London to be closer to the home ground.

The papers said there was “no documentary evidence” on the contract or correspondence alluding to this, nor was Mr Culley told where he should move or given a time limit for this.

The 29-year-old said he was relieved and pleased with the outcome.

Now a striker for Hampton and Richmond Borough Football Club, he said: “It is the outcome I wanted but it would have been a lot easier if it was resolved a long time ago.

“It was very confusing at the time.

“I hope this is the end of it now.

“I was quite disappointed this happened as I really enjoyed my time at the club and got on with a lot of people there.

“The fans were great.”

The judge described him as setting out his complaint with “clarity and candour” but criticised the club for not engaging with the tribunal at all.

He added: “[The club] played no part in the tribunal process.

“There was no acknowledgement of tribunal correspondence nor did the club seek to play any part in the proceedings – nor indeed has any response been entered to resist the proceedings.”

The club have just over a week to pay the amount or face an eight per cent interest charge.