London: The Football Association has set up an internal review into what Crewe and Manchester City knew about Barry Bennell and allegations of child sexual abuse in football. The governing body will also investigate what information it was aware of at the time of the alleged offences.
Four players have so far made public allegations against the former Crewe Alexandra youth coach Bennell, who was also involved with Manchester City and Stoke, including Andy Woodward whose account in The Guardian has prompted a string of other footballers to come forward with claims.
The FA has instructed Kate Gallafent QC to assist it with its review into the abuse cases. It has said the internal review will look into what information the body was aware of at the relevant times around the issues, what clubs were aware of, and what action was or should have been taken. It suggested a fully-fledged inquiry may follow.
Gallafent will also make recommendations in order to seek to ensure these situations can never be repeated.
“At this time, with acknowledgement that a wide-ranging inquiry may be required in time, we are working closely with the police to support their lead investigations and must ensure we do not do anything to interfere with or jeopardise the criminal process,” said the FA.
The development comes a day after Crewe announced it will launch its own independent investigation into how it has dealt with the allegations concerning Bennell.
A statement released by Crewe on Saturday, 10 days after the Guardian first published Woodward’s testimony, said they were “determined a thorough investigation” should be launched at the earliest opportunity. It added that the Cheshire club “believes an independent review, to be conducted via the appointment of external legal counsel, is the correct way forward in the circumstances”.