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FA steps up child abuse allegations review

Press AssociationPress Association 27/11/2016

More than 20 former players have come forward with allegations of historical child abuse, prompting the Football Association to step up its review.

On Sunday the FA instructed independent leading counsel Kate Gallafent QC to oversee its internal review, assessing ''what information the FA was aware of at the relevant times, what clubs were aware of, and what action was or should have been taken''.

Her recommendations will be considered but the FA accepts a full, wide-ranging inquiry may yet be necessary.

The scale of the issue has grown by the day since former Crewe player Andy Woodward waived his anonymity to speak about his abuse at the hands of youth coach and serial paedophile Barry Bennell.

Professional Footballers' Association chief executive Gordon Taylor expects the number of allegations to continue rising.

He told BBC Radio Five Live's Sportsweek programme: ''From that time, of those who became apprentices and senior players, over 20 players have come forward."

Asked to name the clubs that had been connected to allegations, Taylor said: ''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.

''I can't believe it's just going to be in the northwest and northeast. We need to be mindful this could be throughout the country in the same way it's been in other professions where children are there - in the church, in schools and other areas we are well acquainted with over the past few years.''

Manchester City and Crewe have launched independent investigations. Blackpool, who had not previously been linked with the allegations, told Press Association Sport: ''The club is yet to receive any information from the PFA or relevant authorities in relation to the ongoing investigations of historic abuse.

''Should any past links with the organisation come to light, the club will provide every assistance it possibly can.''

Leeds said in a statement: ''Leeds United have not been made aware of any allegations regarding sexual abuse from the PFA or any other governing bodies to date."

Bennell, who has been named by players including Woodward, Steve Walters, David White, Ian Ackley and, most recently, Anthony Hughes, worked with Crewe, Manchester City, Stoke and several junior clubs in the north west.

The Metropolitan Police, Hampshire Police and Cheshire Police have said they are investigating allegations of abuse in the football community.

Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800 (for young people aged 5 to 25).

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