Northumbria Police are investigating an allegation by a former Newcastle United player that he was abused in the club’s youth system, it has been reported.
It means that two police forces are now looking into the growing alleged sex abuse scandal which is threatening the national game as Detective Inspector Sarah Hall of Cheshire Police said it has “now been made aware of a number of people who have come forward wishing to speak to the police”.
A Northumbria Police spokesman told The Guardian: “We have received a report in relation to an allegation of historic sexual offences in Newcastle. We are working closely with, and supporting the victim and enquiries are ongoing.”
The unnamed former Newcastle player came forward after other players including David White, Paul Stewart and Andy Woodward spoke out about being sexually abused by football coaches as children.
The Guardian said the former Newcastle player had contacted police to make allegations against George Ormond, a coach in the north east who was jailed for six years in 2002 for carrying out numerous assaults across a 24-year period.
An NSPCC hotline - 0800 023 2642 – received 50 calls within its first two hours of being launched. It was set up after the ex-footballers spoke about abuse.
Former coach Barry Bennell, who worked for Crewe Alexandra, Manchester City, Stoke and several junior teams in north-west England and the Midlands, has been at the centre of the unfolding scandal.
He was given a four-year sentence for raping a British boy on a football tour of Florida in 1994 and then a nine-year sentence for 23 offences against six boys in England in 1998. The predatory paedophile scouted a host of future football stars in the 1970s, ‘80s and ‘90s.
Ex-Sheffield United player Woodward said he was abused by Bennell at Crewe Alexandra.
Former England and Manchester City star White, 49, told the BBC he was sexually abused by Bennell in the late 70s and early 80s while playing for Whitehill FC Junior team in Manchester.
He said: “Given recent press stories I wish to confirm that I was sexually abused by my former football coach Barry Bennell in the late 70s and early 80s - this abuse took place while I was attached to Whitehill FC Junior team based in Manchester.”
Former Liverpool and Tottenham player Stewart waived his anonymity this week to say he had been abused as a boy by a different unnamed coach.
In an emotional interview with the BBC, he also said he believed there were “hundreds of victims” of sexual abuse who could come forward.
He said the sport could face allegations on the scale of the Jimmy Savile scandal.
He told the BBC: “I would almost guarantee it as long as the victims are willing to come forward.”
After his death, former DJ and television presenter Savile was found to be one of the UK’s most prolific sexual predators.
Football Association chairman Greg Clarke said: “We’ve got 8,500 safeguarding officers out there in the community and I wrote to 30,000 clubs today to raise their awareness.”
In a statement Crewe’s director of football Dario Gradi said: “I would like to express sympathy to the victims of Barry Bennell not only at Crewe Alexandra, but at other clubs in the north west.
“The first I knew of Barry Bennell’s crimes was when he was arrested in the United States in 1994. I knew nothing of his crimes before this time when he was employed by us.”
Manchester City told Press Association Sport: “The club is aware of allegations that Barry Bennell had an association with Manchester City in the 1980s.
“As a result the club is currently undertaking a thorough investigation of any past links he might have had with the organisation.”