In Brief

Football sex abuse: Chelsea investigate scout after 'secret payout'

FA says it would be 'morally repugnant to suppress allegations of crimes against children' as Blues investigate 'former employee'

Chelsea have been dragged into football's child sex abuse scandal after they "sanctioned a secret payment to a former youth team footballer who accused the club's ex-chief scout of child sexual abuse", reports the Daily Telegraph.

According to the paper, the payment was made within the past three years and the complaint relates to allegations of sexual assault dating back to the 1970s. 

It adds that the figure at the centre of the claims is "Eddie Heath, Chelsea’s influential chief scout for more than a decade". 

A confidentiality agreement was put in place but when approached by the Telegraph, Chelsea "did not deny the claim that they had paid Heath’s accuser and settled the case". 

The paper says the victim came forward in the wake of the Jimmy Savile scandal, which saw the entertainer unmasked as one of Britain's worst serial paedophiles. "It is understood the club initially rebuffed the claim, but decided to make a payment when the victim threatened to make the allegations public. It is understood the club did not accept liability," claims the Telegraph.

Chelsea has now announced it will carry out an investigation into a "former employee", believed to be Heath, who has since died. 

FA chairman Greg Clarke said he found it "morally repugnant that people would suppress reporting of crimes against children to protect their reputation", says the Daily Mail.

According to The Times, Heath was regarded by youth team players as "someone to avoid" in the 1970s. "Everyone would say, 'Don't let Eddie Heath see you in the showers or get you alone in his car,'" one told the paper.

Heath unearthed players including Ray Wilkins, Gary Locke, Steve Wicks, John Bumstead and Tommy Langley, but was fired by Chelsea in 1979. He was subjected to a "character assassination" by former Blues boss Geoff Hurst at an employment tribunal after his dismissal, says the London Evening Standard.

Hurst said: "The chief scout was spending his time hanging around the club premises and not out in the field. He was never north of Watford - never travelling around the country. 

"He spent a lot of his time in his office, decorating and cooking meals for the schoolboy players. He even built a partition during his time there."

Six police forces - Cambridgeshire, Cheshire, Hampshire, Northumbria, the Metropolitan Police and Greater Manchester - are now investigating allegations of historical sexual abuse, reports the Times. 

Cheshire police announced last night Barry Bennell, the former Crewe Alexandra coach, had been charged with eight offences of sexual assault against a boy under the age of 14. He will appear in court on 14 December.

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