The club acknowledges the findings of Mr Sheldon QC that, notwithstanding the club may still not have got to the truth of any matters at that time, more could have been done to monitor the situation concerning Mr Bennell.
The club is truly sorry if there were in fact any warning signs that ought to have led the club to do more. Had the club had any suspicion or belief that Mr Bennell was committing acts of abuse, either before, during or after he left the club’s employment, the club would have informed the police immediately.
The club wishes to make it absolutely clear that it sincerely regrets and is disgusted by the terrible crimes committed by Mr Bennell upon many young footballers over a significant number of years. The despicable abuse committed by Mr Bennell was abhorrent and the club continues to have the deepest sympathy for the victims and survivors of Mr Bennell.
The club fully understands the additional hurt and trauma to the victims and survivors of Mr Bennell which has been caused by the fact that no one at the club was aware of the offences being committed upon them at the time. The club wholeheartedly regrets and is sorry to every survivor of abuse that it was unaware of Bennell’s offending.
The report of Clive Sheldon rightly acknowledges that for most of the period of Mr Bennell’s and others’ offending there was little or no guidance on child protection available to those working in sport or society in general. The club acknowledges that awareness of child protection matters and systems of safeguarding in football and in society have now improved considerably and safeguarding has become an integral part of the club’s everyday life.
The club acknowledges however that improvements to safeguarding can always be made and the club accepts the recommendations made by Clive Sheldon QC to ensure our safeguarding procedures remain as robust as possible.
The club also acknowledges the contributions made by all individuals to the report of Clive Sheldon QC and reiterates its deepest sympathy to all those victims and survivors of Mr Bennell.