Blackpool FC have confirmed they are co-operating with all relevant authorities over claims of historical sex abuse against players in the 1980s and are aware of legal action being taken against the club by an alleged victim. However, the club has taken legal advice and been advised not to comment at this stage.
London solicitors Bolt Burdon Kemp have told The Daily Mail that legal action has begun against Blackpool.
The allegations centre around youth coach Frank Roper, who died in 1995 and had links with several North-West clubs, including Blackpool, through his Manchester youth football organisation Nova in the 1980s.
The former Blackpool midfielder Paul Stewart spoke out last November about abuse he had been subjected to by Roper.
The Daily Mail has reported that 31 former players have accused Roper of historical sex abuse.
Bolt Burdon Kemp told The Mail: “What is even more worrying is that this is very likely to only be the tip of the iceberg — Frank Roper was associated with Blackpool for over a decade.
“He was granted frequent access to children as a result of this and the abuse is alleged to have taken place not just in England but also in Thailand and New Zealand.
“I have been instructed by a number of survivors to pursue claims against Blackpool Football Club. A letter before claim has been sent on behalf of one of my clients to Blackpool setting out the abuse that my client suffered at the hands of Roper.
“Blackpool have confirmed receipt of these papers and I am awaiting their response as to whether or not they admit responsibility for the acts of Roper.’
Stewart, now 52 and still resident in Blackpool, revealed he suffered abuse from Roper for four years before signing for Blackpool as an apprentice.
He went on to make over 200 League appearances for Blackpool from 1981-87 and was inducted into the club’s hall of fame. He went on the play for Manchester City, Tottenham and Liverpool and won three England caps.