Chelsea could face multi-million pound claim: report

FRENCH PRESS AGENCY - AFP
LONDON
Published 11.12.2016 23:11
Updated 11.12.2016 23:12

English Premier League giants Chelsea could face a multi-million pound law suit for damages over sex abuse perpetrated by a former scout decades ago, the Mail reported on Sunday.

The newspaper claims the number of former players to have come forward, alleging abused by the late Eddie Heath, has doubled to six in just a week with the majority being from his time at Chelsea.

Chelsea's present owner Roman Abramovich - who bought the club years after the alleged crimes were carried out - sanctioned a 50,000-pound payout ($63,850) to one of the players Gary Johnson in 2015 provided he did not go public about it.

The latter measure earned Chelsea a raft of criticism prompting them to issue a statement apologizing 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.

Chelsea are just one of 98 clubs from all levels the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) has said have been 'impacted' by the scandal with around 350 victims and 83 people identified as potential suspects.

This does not include the two to have been charged.

Former Crewe Alexandra youth coach Barry Bennell, who has served three jail terms for sexual abuse, has been charged with eight counts of sexual abuse.

Former Celtic coach and player Jim McCafferty, who has admitted he attacked four players during his time in Scotland and was coming forward to 'cleanse his soul', gave himself up to Northern Irish police earlier this week and has been charged with a non-football linked offence in Ulster.

Whilst Chelsea have launched their own internal review - just as English football's governing body the Football Association (FA) has done with regard to what previous regimes knew about the rumors and claims - more former youth players told the Mail on Sunday Heath was a well-known predator.

Richard Wilson, who became a detective in child protection in the Kent Police force, told the newspaper Heath, who died in 1983 aged 54 but had moved on to Charlton Athletic after he was fired by then manager Geoff Hurst in 1979 for spending more time decorating his office than scouting, behaved like a 'kid in a sweet shop' as he urged the youth players to play pool and table tennis in his 'pre-fabricated pavilion'.

"Looking back it was part of the grooming process," said Wilson. "He never touched me, but Eddie enjoyed the perfect conditions to prey on boys."

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