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Graham Taylor involved in sex abuse cover-up at Aston Villa, inquiry told

By Staff Reporter

Former England boss Graham Taylor was warned about possible sexual abuse of young players during his time as Aston Villa manager but suggested it should be swept "underneath the carpet", a victim has said.

It was claimed in January that Villa sacked scout Ted Langford after learning of the abuse allegations in 1988, but did not alert police.

Langford, who died in 2012, later admitted sex offences dating from 1976 until he left Villa Park in 1989. He had joined Villa from Leicester in 1987. He was jailed for three years in 2007 for offences against young footballers.

In an interview with the BBC's Victoria Derbyshire show, former Leicester footballer Tony Brien said he was told by Taylor when advising Villa of his concerns: "Look, you're a young lad starting out in the game. I know you've just made your debut. Could you really be dealing with all the obscenities from the terraces? So I just suggest you sweep it underneath the carpet."

Brien said he was immediately upset, and recalled: "I went into the kitchen where my mother was still doing the washing-up and she said: 'Well?'. And I just told her: 'They told me to sweep it underneath the carpet.' And I broke down in tears."

Taylor died in January aged 72. He was manager at Villa from 1987 to 1990, when he left to take charge of the England team. He returned to the club for a short spell in 2002.

Former defender Brien, who waived his right to anonymity, is reported to have informed Villa in the 1987-88 season that he knew from personal experience, from the ages of 12 to 14, that boys were at risk, having suffered abuse at Dunlop Terriers. Managed by Langford, Dunlop Terriers were a feeder side for Leicester and then Villa.

According to The Guardian, the independent inquiry into football's sexual abuse scandal is also looking at a separate allegation that another of Langford's victims came forward with information and that he, too, was discouraged by Taylor from pursuing the matter.

Brien, giving evidence to the inquiry last month, reportedly said that he summoned the courage to report Langford at the age of 18, when a coach left Leicester for Villa. In a statement, Villa said it has co-operated fully with the ongoing investigation.

"The club now has robust safeguarding polices and procedures in place to deal with any new and historic complaints raised."

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