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Man United co-operating with sex abuse enquiry in relation to former employee

Billy Watts, an ex-caretaker, kit man and groundsman at The Cliff during the 1980s, is at the centre of the allegations.

United's old training ground, The Cliff.
United's old training ground, The Cliff.
Image: EMPICS Sport

MANCHESTER UNITED HAVE passed allegations made about a late member of staff to the enquiry into historic sexual abuse in football being chaired by leading lawyer Clive Sheldon, the club said today. 

Billy Watts, who died in 2009, worked as a caretaker, kit man and groundsman at The Cliff, United’s former main training ground, during the 1980s, where both the senior and junior squads trained.

According to The Telegraph, Watts was moved to duties at Old Trafford after being punished for an unspecified offence in 1989.

United have passed this and two other allegations to the Sheldon Review. The minutes of the internal disciplinary hearing do not, however, specify list the offence.

According to sports website The Athletic, one of the allegations deals with an indecent assault on a young player.

United told the Press Association they had conducted an intensive inquiry into the allegations and the original disciplinary hearing and had subsequently passed on any information they obtained to the Sheldon Review.

“We have cooperated fully with the Sheldon Review in an effort to make sure we were as comprehensive on this important matter as we could be,” they said.

“This involved conducting multiple interviews as part of our wide-ranging enquiries pursuant to the review.

These included a former employee who had conducted the disciplinary process against the former caretaker in the 1980s and other current and former employees who worked at the club in the 70s and 80s.

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“All interviewees provided their full cooperation and information relating to the former caretaker has been included in Manchester United’s submissions to the review.

“Identifying facts from historical allegations is never an easy process and their report will include any issues relating to Manchester United that are considered relevant by the review team.”

Widespread abuse in football dating back decades surfaced when Andy Woodward revealed in 2016 how he had been abused at Crewe Alexandra.

His abuser Barry Bennell is serving a 30-year prison sentence for serial abuse, while others at other clubs have received prison sentences.

© – AFP 2019

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