Belfast Telegraph

Chelsea did not break Premier League rules in not reporting abuse allegations

The Premier League has ruled that Chelsea did not break any rules in not reporting allegations of historical abuse made in 2014 by their former player Gary Johnson.

Chelsea apologised to Johnson for the abuse he suffered as a trainee in the 1970s earlier this month, having waived the confidentiality clause in the £50,000 agreement they made with Johnson in 2015.

Although they were found not to have broken rules in not informing the Premier League, the London club have agreed to a full safeguarding audit from an independent safeguarding expert.

A Premier League statement read: "After careful consideration, the board has determined that no Premier League rules were broken by the club not reporting this matter to them in 2014.

" The League has requested that Chelsea agrees to a full safeguarding audit from an independent safeguarding expert.

"The League has no reason to have any concerns about Chelsea's current provisions in this area but, given the seriousness of these historical allegations, feels that such a review is an appropriate course of action.

"The League has also requested that Chelsea provides them with details of the current review the club has asked an external law firm to undertake into historical abuse and how it handled Mr Johnson's claim, and that a full copy of the review is provided to the Premier League and The FA upon its completion.

"Chelsea has agreed to these requests."

Press Association Sport understands Chelsea were not obliged to report the 2014 allegations to the Premier League, under the league's rules at the time, as they had not been reported to any external body. That rule is understood to have been changed last summer, now requiring all safeguarding allegations to be reported.

Johnson, now 57, told the Daily Mirror that he was assaulted multiple times over a three-year period by the club's chief scout Eddie Heath, who is now dead.

He was a member of Chelsea's first team from 1978 to 1981, but joined the club as an 11-year-old in 1970 and claimed he had been groomed from the age of 13 by Heath.

''I felt shame, I felt my childhood had been taken away,'' Johnson said. ''I spent my late teens in turmoil, absolute turmoil.''

The scale of the sexual abuse scandal has rocked football.

According to the information gathered by Operation Hydrant - the UK-wide police investigation into non-recent child sexual abuse - 148 clubs are now involved, with 155 potential suspects and 429 victims, aged between four and 20.

These figures are the result of 819 referrals to Operation Hydrant, with about three-quarters of those coming from the dedicated helpline set up by the Football Association and child protection charity NSPCC last month and the rest from police forces.

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