Football clubs are accountable for Barry Bennell abuse, says victim
Andy Woodward waived his anonymity in November 2016 to speak about the abuse.
Barry Bennell victim Andy Woodward has claimed football clubs are “accountable” for abuse carried out by the former coach.
Bennell, 64, who faces jail for sexually abusing 12 boys between 1979 and 1991, pleaded guilty to abusing Woodward in 1998.
The former Sheffield United and Crewe footballer waived his anonymity in November 2016 to speak about the abuse, prompting a wave of reports to police about Bennell.
Woodward, 44, spoke outside Liverpool Crown Court on Thursday after Bennell was convicted of a total of 43 child sexual abuse offences.
He said: “I do believe that the football clubs were accountable for this, that (they) could have stopped this for so many years and so many of us, and some aren’t even still with us now, and that could have been stopped. I think now’s the time that does come out.
“I would personally like, now after 15 months, an apology from Crewe Alexandra for what happened to us boys.”
In a statement, Crewe Alexandra expressed its “deepest sympathies” to Bennell’s victims.
But it said the club had been unaware of any sexual abuse by Bennell and no complaints about him had been received while he was employed by the club.
Woodward also called for action from the FA.
I do believe that the football clubs were accountable for this. Andy Woodward
He said: “The FA have been very quiet and I hope now that they will actually speak out and they will speak and do something that they have been promising to do for 15 months.”
In a statement posted on Twitter, the FA welcomed the decision of the court and signposted victims to Clive Sheldon QC, whose team is conducting an independent inquiry into allegations of non-recent child sexual abuse in football.
Asked if he had expected the reaction to his story to have been so widespread, Woodward said: “I knew he was prolific, I knew he was on an industrial scale. I didn’t believe that so many people would have the courage to come forward but I’m so proud of every single one of them that are waiting now for justice still and I hope that they will get their justice.”
He added: “I just hope this goes down as a legacy. I’m proud and I hope that I’ll help so many other people in different walks of life to have the courage to speak out and to let go of this horrible feeling that we’ve all had to suffer for so many years.”