Professional Football Clubs Failing to Respond to Abuse Inquiry

 

Football abuseAround six months ago, many serious allegations were made of abuse against individuals involved in youth football coaching following Andy Woodward’s disclosure of his abuse by Coach Barry Bennell.

Greg Clarke, the Association Chairman had said, “I think institutionally, all organisations in the old days used to protect themselves by keeping quiet and closing ranks. That’s completely inappropriate and unacceptable today…” There were prompt calls for the regulation of sport and sports coaches to be updated bearing in mind the power individuals often have over the young people they deal with and the apparent advantage that some are willing to take.

311 football clubs implicated by abuse inquiry

The Professional Footballer’s Association originally believed that 15 clubs were involved but, to date, 311 clubs have been implicated. The Association could take disciplinary action against eight unnamed clubs which have not yet responded to the independent inquiry into the allegations and reports made by 560 individuals and against 252 suspects (the latest available figures releases by the National Police Chief’s Council in April 2017).

Inquiry delay

The clubs had been asked to supply the requested information by two separate deadlines. The inquiry wrote to every amateur and professional club in England and Wales on 11 January 2017 asking them to supply any information that could help relating to the period covered by the review, from 1970 to 2005, and requesting this was done by 15 March 2017 at the latest. However, the inquiry is currently delayed by the lack of response by eight remaining clubs; the inquiry cannot continue until it is possible to form a comprehensive view of what happened and whether there were any systemic failures, who knew and what was done. The inquiry also aims to look into girls’ football and identify any evidence of a network between suspects. The clubs were issued with a second deadline to respond by the end of April 2017 yet these eight clubs are still to respond.

Once all information is received, the next stage of the inquiry will last several months and will include interviewing survivors and key witnesses.

Gary Walker, Panel Member of the Association of Child Abuse Lawyers, has vast experience of representing survivors of abuse in civil claims. He says, “The conduct of these remaining clubs begs the question as to whether there are still individuals in the sport involved in the abuse or simply unwilling to cooperate at a time when certainty and transparency for those affected is of the utmost importance”.

If you or someone you know has been affected by issues raised in this article, please contact Gary for advice at gary.walker@enablelaw.com or call him on 03303 116 772. Alternatively, call our specialist lawyers, dedicated to helping survivors of abuse, on 0800 044 8488 or click here to make an online enquiry.