After the Telegraph’s ‘Football for Sale’ scandal, the latest scandal about to hit the beautiful game is one that will leave more than a taint on football.
After the revelations by ex-players such as Andy Woodward, Paul Stewart and David White, alongside accusations levelled at former Crewe Alexandra coach Barry Bennell, football is likely to be peeled open as investigations into systemic child abuse develop.
The FA have set up an official, internal review into the abuse cases that have come to light, inviting Kate Gallafent QC to assist as independent assistant. They have also commisioned a dedicated NSPCC helpline to provide counselling for anyone who are victims of “sexual abuse in childhood within the football industry.”
However, as some like Oliver Holt write that there are accusations the FA aren’t doing enough, the scandal is beginning to widen and clubs other than Crewe Alexandra are being drawn into the mire of accusations of abuse at club level.
As Gordon Taylor, chief executive of the Professional Players’ Association (PFA), announces that “the number of players making allegations of child sexual abuse in football is now more than 20,” two more clubs were added to the list of clubs connected in some way to the claims.
The latest two are Leeds United and Blackpool, two clubs who now join a list that already included Crewe Alexandra, Manchester City, Newcastle United and Stoke City. This was confirmed by Taylor who was speaking to Radio Five Live’s Sportsweek program, with the chief executive of the PFA saying: “We’d start at Crewe, go to Man City, Stoke, Blackpool, Newcastle, Leeds … I’m expecting there will be more. I think we have six or seven clubs.” Taylor then went on to say that he expects the scope of the investigation to develop further, remaining incredulous that it will only be confined to being, “in the north west and north east.”
With enough controversy surrounding Leeds United, largely thanks to the proclivities of current owner Massimo Cellino, the Whites definitely do not need their name dragging through the mud any more.