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Dublin: 20 °C Friday 29 May, 2020

Ex-Ireland international opens up about Aston Villa coach's alleged bullying

Kevin MacDonald has been removed by the club following Gareth Farrelly’s accusations.

Kevin MacDonald.
Kevin MacDonald.
Image: EMPICS Sport

ASTON VILLA HAVE suspended long-serving youth coach Kevin MacDonald following claims made by former Ireland international Gareth Farrelly.

Dubliner Farrelly joined the English club as a teenager in 1992 and says MacDonald would relentlessly bully the boys. According to the Guardian, his father complained to the club at the time that he was “showing signs of depression because of the emotional abuse by MacDonald”. 

Capped six times by the Republic of Ireland, the midfielder went to play for the likes of Everton, Bolton Wanderers, Bohemians and Cork City. The 43-year-old also qualified as a lawyer earlier this year. 

MacDonald, who played for Liverpool and Coventry City in the 1980s, has been removed from his position at Villa following the accusations and an investigation will take place. 

A previous Premier League investigation found MacDonald of bullying a young Villa player in 2015 and 2016.

“It was a culture of verbal and physical bullying,” Farrelly told the Guardian, “but there were no checks and balances; he operated with impunity… It was like a dark shadow came over.

“He would say: ‘You think you’re a fucking player? You’re not a fucking player. You’ve got fucking no chance.’ He would be calling players ‘cunts’ all the time; crazy stuff when you think about the role of responsibility he operated in.

Coventry Res v Aston Villa Res Farrelly during his playing days at Villa. Source: EMPICS Sport

“In training it wasn’t unusual for people to end up squaring up to him, games would have to be stopped. It became normal. People were lucky not to have their legs broken. Every day you’d go into work, put your boots on, and think: ‘Here it comes again’. It took a huge toll.”

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Ben Blake

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