Ex Newcastle player 'alleges abuse' as football scandal widens

Ex Newcastle player 'alleges abuse' as football scandal widens

Police are investigating an allegation by a former Newcastle United player that he was abused in the club's youth system, it has been reported.

It means that two police forces are now looking into the growing alleged sex abuse scandal which is threatening the national game as Detective Inspector Sarah Hall of Cheshire Police said it has "now been made aware of a number of people who have come forward wishing to speak to the police".

A Northumbria Police spokesman told The Guardian: "We have received a report in relation to an allegation of historic sexual offences in Newcastle. We are working closely with, and supporting the victim and enquiries are ongoing."

The unnamed former Newcastle player came forward after other former players including ex-England and Manchester City players David White and Paul Stewart and former Crewe Alexandra players Steve Walters and Andy Woodward spoke out about being sexually abused by football coaches as children.

The Guardian said the former Newcastle player had contacted police to make allegations against George Ormond, a coach in the north east who was jailed for six years in 2002 for carrying out numerous assaults across a 24-year period.

An NSPCC hotline - 0800 023 2642 - received 50 calls within its first two hours of being launched. It was set up after the ex-footballers spoke about abuse.

Former coach Barry Bennell, who worked for Crewe Alexandra, Manchester City, Stoke and several junior teams in north-west England and the Midlands, has been at the centre of the unfolding scandal.

Bennell was given a four-year sentence for raping a British boy on a football tour of Florida in 1994 and then a nine-year sentence for 23 offences against six boys in England in 1998. The predatory paedophile scouted a host of future football stars in the 1970s, '80s and '90s.

On Friday it emerged that two more men had told the BBC they were also preyed upon by the paedophile, with one alleging he witnessed up to three other boys being abused at the coach's home.

Chris Unsworth, 44, was a youth player at Manchester City with Bennell before moving to Crewe Alexandra with him when he was 12.

He said he stayed at the coach's house on a number of occasions when Bennell had two or three boys in his bed where he would abuse them.

Mr Unsworth, who left football at 16, said: "We never spoke to each other about it."

Jason Dunford said Bennell attempted to touch him while staying at a Butlins holiday camp after winning a football competition with Manchester City's nursery team.

He told the BBC: "I told him to get off me. After that, Bennell began to torment me - dropping me from the team, telling me I would play, but on the Sunday dropping me again."

Mr Dunford said he was then targeted by a second abuser at a different team after leaving Manchester City. He said he was one of three boys staying at the coach's house when the man attempted to touch him.

He told the BBC: "I pushed his hand away. Later I woke up again, and the coach was touching one of the other boys."

Mr Unsworth and Mr Dunsford said they did not turn professional because, in part, of their experiences.

Both men have waived their right to anonymity, according to the BBC. Mr Unsworth said he chose to speak out after his girlfriend showed him an interview with Mr Woodward.

Ex-Sheffield United player Mr Woodward said he was abused by Bennell at Crewe Alexandra.

Former England and Manchester City star Mr White, 49, told the BBC he was sexually abused by Bennell in the late 70s and early 80s while playing for Whitehill FC Junior team in Manchester.

Former Liverpool and Tottenham player Mr Stewart waived his anonymity this week to say he had been abused as a boy by a different unnamed coach.

In an emotional interview with the BBC, he also said he believed there were "hundreds of victims" of sexual abuse who could come forward.

He said the sport could face allegations on the scale of the Jimmy Savile scandal.

After his death, former DJ and television presenter Savile was found to be one of the UK's most prolific sexual predators.

Football Association chairman Greg Clarke said: "We've got 8,500 safeguarding officers out there in the community and I wrote to 30,000 clubs today to raise their awareness."

In a statement Crewe's director of football Dario Gradi expressed sympathy to the victims of Bennell and said he first knew of his crimes after his arrest in the US. The club is carrying out an internal investigation.

Manchester City said: "The club is aware of allegations that Barry Bennell had an association with Manchester City in the 1980s.

"As a result the club is currently undertaking a thorough investigation of any past links he might have had with the organisation."

- PA

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