London, United Kingdom, Dec 13 – There have been 106 allegations of sex abuse connected with people at 30 London clubs including four Premier League sides, police said on Tuesday.
These allegations — which stem from just one of the investigations being conducted by 21 of the 45 British regional police forces in a scandal that has rocked English football to its foundations have come to light since last Thursday when London’s police force, the Metropolitan Police, announced the launch of their enquiry.
Aside from the four unnamed London Premier League clubs the Met would not reveal who they were there are two Championship sides and three from League One and Two.
The rest are non-league, amateur or non-professional clubs, according to the Met.
“The Met take all allegations seriously, and specialist officers will work through the information passed to them,” said Detective Chief Superintendent Ivan Balhatchet of the Sexual Offence, Exploitation and Child Abuse Command.
“The number of referrals, pieces of information and allegations will change. Officers will continue to work through the information that has been reported.
“The Met will not be giving a commentary as this investigation develops and is not discussing the names of the clubs involved, or number of allegations against each club.”
It is not known whether Chelsea are one of the four London Premier League clubs of interest to the Met although several former youth players have come forward to claim they were abused by scout Eddie Heath in the 1970s.
Chelsea’s present owner Roman Abramovich who bought the club years after the alleged crimes were carried out sanctioned a £50,000 payout ($63,850, 59,230 euros) to one of the players, Gary Johnson, in 2015 provided he didn’t go public about it.
The latter measure earned Chelsea a raft of criticism prompting them to issue a statement apologising profusely to Johnson and explaining the gagging order was ‘inappropriate’ but had been included based on legal advice as it is considered normal in such agreements.
Johnson, though, broke his silence once the slew of allegations regarding other clubs emerged last month and is demanding more in the way of compensation from the club they have also admitted they were alerted to other cases like Johnson’s but took it no further.
Heath like several of the other accused former coaches from other clubs will neither face prosecution nor be able to contest the allegations as he died aged 54 in 1983. He was fired in 1979 by then-manager Geoff Hurst not for sex abuse but for spending more time decorating his office than out scouting.
However, former Chelsea assistant manager Dario Gradi has been suspended from his post as director of football at Crewe, another club which has been implicated in the abuse scandal, for allegedly persuading in 1974 a Chelsea youth player and his parents not to pursue Heath over a claim of abuse.
Gradi, 75, denies any wrongdoing.
Elsewhere the Scottsh Football Association (SFA) took the first steps towards establishing like the English FA a review of their procedures and what was known about the sex abuse allegations decades ago — former Celtic kitman and scout Jim McCafferty told the Irish Mirror he attacked four players during his time in Scotland in the 1990’s and was coming forward to ‘cleanse his soul’.
“Police Scotland has reaffirmed that it is the investigatory authority regarding reports of child sexual abuse in football, and it is therefore crucial to draw the distinction between their ongoing investigation and what lessons football can learn from historic allegations,” said Stewart O’Regan the SFA’s chief executive after meeting with the Professional Footballers Association and Police Scotland.