Blackpool FC named in child sex abuse scandal

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The head of the Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) says former footballers have claimed sexual abuse took place at Blackpool Football Club.

It comes as the FA announced it has launched an independent inquiry into allegations of child sex abuse involving footballers, days after a number of former players made accusations against a former youth coach at Crewe Alexandra.

More than 20 former footballers have now come forward to seek help from the PFA.

This morning (Sunday), the PFA's chief executive Gordon Taylor told Sky News the problem could be nationwide and said players have now claimed abuse took place at Blackpool, as well as Manchester City, Stoke City, Leeds United and Newcastle United.

He said: "It would be naive to think that there would not be clubs, as well, throughout all areas.

"As we've seen in other areas where youngsters are involved, such as the church and schools, there are difficulties and sensitivities in dealing with it."

Blackpool FC issued the following statement in response to Mr Taylor's interview.

A Blackpool FC spokesman said: "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."

Former Blackpool player Paul Stewart was among those to reveal he had been abused by a coach for four years as a child.

He told the Daily Mirror an unnamed coach abused him daily for four years up to the age of 15, before he signed for Blackpool.

The Metropolitan Police and forces in Hampshire, Northumbria and Cheshire have also said they are investigating abuse allegations.

An FA statement said: "The FA has instructed independent leading counsel Kate Gallafent QC to assist it with a review into the abuse cases which have recently come to light.

"The FA had already initiated an internal review which Ms Gallafent will now oversee, while it continues to also prioritise victim support and providing full assistance to on-going police inquiries.

"At this time, with acknowledgement that a wide-ranging inquiry may be required in time, we are working closely with the police to support their lead investigations and must ensure we do not do anything to interfere with or jeopardise the criminal process.

"The internal review will look into what information The FA was aware of at the relevant times around the issues that have been raised in the press, what clubs were aware of, and what action was or should have been taken."