HYNDBURN councillors have insisted a £45,000 sponsorship deal with Accrington Stanley will not be affected by its ongoing cash crisis.
Members of both parties agreed to continue with the three-year deal this week, despite Councillor Tim O'Kane calling for it to be scrapped.
Councillor O'Kane argued that with the council nearly £2M in debt, the club should consider repaying the sponsorship money - especially after it received £50,000 for its live television coverage on Monday night.
And Stanley chairman Eric Whalley fuelled the debate by saying that if the council wanted the money back, it could have it with interest.
During a full council meeting on Tuesday, Tory council leader Peter Britcliffe said: "I am very disappointed Council-lor O'Kane chose to make these remarks and I think he ought to be ashamed of himself.
"We are very proud that Accrington Stanley are wearing the Hyndburn Council logo on their shirts and, as far as I'm concerned, the sponsorship deal remains.
"It is £15,000 a year and we have had tremendous value for that. We have had two soccer schools and our name displayed widely on national television."
Councillor David Myles, deputy Labour leader, agreed it was important for both parties to work together to deal with the financial crisis, adding: "We do support Accrington Stanley and we want it fully understood that this was Tim acting on his own - it was not a Labour group policy."
But speaking after the meeting, Councillor O'Kane stood by his comments.
"It is typical of someone who is in a £2M black hole to run away from practical solutions," he said. "I believe Hyndburn Council is the only authority in the country to sponsor a professional football club - is it right that ratepayers' money should be used?
"The council is now sending out all its mail second-class to try to claw back a little bit of money.
"I am an Accrington Stanley supporter and I hope they go on to bigger and better things, but not using public money."
Mr Whalley told the Observer: "When the council decided to sponsor us it was for a dual purpose - to promote the name of Hyndburn as well as to help the club.
"If they feel it is not worthwhile, they're welcome to have their money back."