Manchester United aware of sexual abuse allegations made against ex-employee

Manchester United have passed on allegations regarding a former employee as part of their cooperation with the official inquiry into historic sexual abuse.

Billy Watts, who died in 2009, undertook a number of jobs at The Cliff in Salford during the 1980s, including caretaker, groundsman and kit man.
Watts was the subject of internal disciplinary action in 1989 and subsequently moved away from the training ground, which housed the club’s junior teams as well as the senior squad.
Details of that complaint have not been made clear. United have reported that and two further incidents to the inquiry, led by Clive Sheldon QC.

The Football Association’s independent inquiry was set-up following Andy Woodward’s account of years of sexual abuse as a child by serial paedophile, Barry Bennell.

Bennell is serving a 30-year prison sentence and Woodward’s disclosure in 2016 prompted other victims to go public with allegations.

According to the Athletic, a complaint was also made to United in late 2016 from a man who alleged to have witnessed Watts attempting to inappropriately touch a trainee.

Watts was featured in United’s official yearbook in 1988 with his staff profile reading: ‘We’ve never been able to find out just what Billy does! Suffice to say that he always seems to be busy and is quite the fixture now at The Cliff, our main training ground.’ United have submitted relevant information to the Sheldon Review in accordance with a request for each club in the Premier League and Football League to report any complaints or concerns fielded that ‘expressed to, or held by your club, in relation of child abuse’.
A United statement read: ‘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.

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‘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.

‘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.’

The Author

Chinenye Nwabueze

Nwabueze is a communication researcher with several years of lecturing experience in Nigerian universities.

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