Paedophile former football coach Barry Bennell has told a High Court judge that he was not linked to Manchester City four decades ago after eight men who say he abused them made damages claims.
Bennell, who is in jail after being convicted of child sex offences, told Mr Justice Johnson that he had been a “local scout” for City between 1975 and 1979.
But he told the judge, who is overseeing a High Court trial in London, that he had not been a City “coach” between 1979 and 1985, when the men say they were abused.
He also said his “junior teams” had no connection with City.
The eight men, who are now in their 40s and 50s, say Bennell, 67, abused them when they were playing schoolboy football for teams he coached in the North West of England between 1979 and 1985.
They claim that Bennell, who became a coach at Crewe in 1985, was a scout for City during that time and argue that the relationship between Bennell and City was “one of employment or one akin to employment”.
City bosses deny that claim.
They say Bennell had been a local City scout in the mid-1970s but was not a City scout between 1979 and 1985.
Bennell said he had used his “previous connection” with City as “a draw for players to join my junior teams”.
“None of the teams they played for that I ran were in any way connected with MCFC,” Bennell told the judge, in a written witness statement.
“However, I can entirely understand why some of the claimants may have genuinely believed they were playing for teams connected with MCFC because I was responsible for creating that belief.
“… from about 1975 until 1978 I was what was known as a local scout for MCFC.”
He added: “I also accept that I wanted to go on and become a professional football coach, but unfortunately MCFC did not offer me a position.
“Thereafter, I used my previous connection with MCFC as a draw for players to join my junior teams.
“Throughout my involvement in junior football I always used and exploited my previous connections for my own benefit.
“I was particularly good at creating the impression with junior players, their parents, other coaches and for that matter anyone else I met that I was a MCFC coach and that playing for one of my junior teams meant that they were in some way connected with MCFC, which of course was what the players and their parents themselves always wanted to believe.
“However, the reality is that I was never a MCFC coach and after 1978/1979 my junior teams had no connection at all with MCFC.”
Mr Justice Johnson has heard that Bennell, who used to live near Buxton, Derbyshire, had abused schoolboy footballers after inviting them to stay at his home.
The eight men are claiming damages for psychiatric injuries.
Six are also claiming damages for loss of potential football earnings.
Mr Justice Johnson has been told that Bennell is serving a 34-year sentence after being convicted of sexual offences against boys on five separate occasions – four in the UK and one in the US – and is being held at HMP Littlehey, near Huntingdon in Cambridgeshire.
Bennell gave evidence from Littlehey prison, via a video link.
He was questioned by barrister James Counsell QC, who is representing the eight men.
He denied abusing four of the men involved in the litigation.
“Really?” asked Mr Counsell.
“Really,” replied Bennell.
He admitted abusing others.
Mr Counsell asked Bennell about his wider abuse of boys between the 1970s and 1990s.
“How many boys do you say you have abused?” Mr Counsell asked.
Bennell replied: “I am not answering that question.”
He added: “I am not prepared to go into that.
“I’ve been found guilty. I’ve plead guilty. I’ve done time. I’m doing time.
“What do you want?”
Bennell suggested that there had been a “bandwagon”.
“Without a doubt,” he said. “Give me a polygraph.”
Mr Counsell asked Bennell if he was still trying to “exert control” over victims and whether he cared about the truth.
“All I want is the truth,” said Bennell.
“I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t care.”
Bennell told the judge that he has changed his name to “Richard Jones”.
He wore a red sweatshirt and light blue face mask.
Bennell said he wanted to wear a mask while answering questions.
He said he had recently “had five teeth out” – and referred to “Covid”.
In his written witness statement before the court, Bennell said that several of his convictions for child sexual abuse related to six of the eight claimants suing Manchester City.