Chelsea made 'secret payment' after former chief scout Eddie Heath was accused of sexual abuse by youth player

The allegations concern Heath, who is now dead, and a former youth player who is alleged to have been sexually abused during the 1970s

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Chelsea have appointed a law firm to investigate an "individual employed by the club in the 1970s" who is alleged to have abused a former youth team footballer.

According to the The Telegraph, the youngster claims he was sexually assaulted by Eddie Heath, the London club's chief scout from 1968 to 1979.

The newspaper reported that a payment was made in the past three years to the victim by Chelsea, with the club refusing to comment on any of the details. Heath died before the allegation was made.

No one was available for comment at Chelsea but the club released the following statement on their website: "Chelsea Football Club has retained an external law firm to carry out an investigation concerning an individual employed by the club in the 1970s, who is now deceased.

"The club has also contacted the FA to ensure that all possible assistance is provided as part of their wider investigation. This will include providing the FA with any relevant information arising out of the club's investigation.

"The FA has commissioned a dedicated NSPCC helpline for adults who were victims of sexual abuse in childhood within the football industry. The helpline is available 24 hours a day on 0800 023 2642.

"While the club's investigation is ongoing, we will make no further comment on this matter."

Eight police forces - Police Scotland, the Metropolitan, Cambridgeshire, Staffordshire, Greater Manchester, Hampshire, Cheshire and Northumbria - are now looking into allegations of historical child sex abuse in football.

There have been 250 reports made to police and more than 50 calls were made to an NSPCC hotline set up for sexual abuse victims in football in the initial hours of opening.

More than 20 former players have now spoken out about alleged abuse. The reports started after former player Andy Woodward told the The Guardian earlier this month that he was abused as a youth.

andy-woodward-2-0.jpg
Woodward, whose story has inspired others to come forward (PA)

Earlier on Tuesday, former football coach Barry Bennell was charged with eight sexual abuse offences against a boy under the age of 14.

Bennell, a former youth coach at Manchester City and Crewe Alexandra, was sentenced to nine years in prison in 1998 for 23 charges of sexual offences against six boys aged between nine and 15.

Woodward, one of the six boys in the case, chose to waive his right to anonymity and share his story with The Guardian, encouraging others to come forward.

250 reports of historical offences have since been made to police, and eight separate forces are now looking into allegations of abuse in football.

Police Scotland is the latest force to confirm it is looking into allegations following claims of sexual abuse by former players, as the FA begins an internal review.

A Police Scotland spokesman said: “We can confirm we have received reports in connection with non-recent child abuse within football.

“We are working with both Operation Hydrant and the NSPCC to ensure there is a co-ordinated UK police response. It would be inappropriate to comment further.”

PA

Comments