The Sheldon Review: Manchester United Allegations and Cooperation

November 20, 2019

Manchester United have stated that they are ‘cooperating fully’ with an investigation into historic sex abuse allegations against a former employee of the club. The investigation is being conducted as part of the Football Association’s (FA) independent review of child sex abuse in football clubs. The investigation is led by Clive Sheldon QC and is referred to as the Sheldon Review. 

The review was set up in 2016 following allegations made by former football players from several clubs. Initially, Sheldon QC asked a number of clubs for detailed reports on how they handled complaints of sex abuse, however, he has now started conducting investigations into individual clubs.

As part of the initial investigation, more than 3000 documents from the FA archives were reviewed to find data and information relating to child protection measures and procedures. The scale of the investigation is yet to be fully realised, with almost 900 alleged victims coming forward since Andy Woodward, a former player for Crewe, spoke to the Guardian newspaper in 2016. The response to the review was such that the NSPCC set up a hotline alongside the FA to take calls from footballers who had experienced sex abuse in football clubs. Figures from Operation Hydrant, the police department responsible for the operation, outline that 294 suspects have been identified. 

Investigation into Manchester United Football Club

The investigation into how Manchester United dealt with complaints of child sex abuse related to allegations against a former caretaker at the club. The caretaker, Billy Watts who died in 2009, was subject to disciplinary action in 1989 while working at the club’s former training ground, The Cliff. He was then moved to another position away from the club’s youth team. 

 A spokesperson for Manchester United Football Club said: 

“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,” 

The spokesperson went on to detail how the club has conducted multiple interviews, including interviewing a former employee involved in the disciplinary action taken against the former caretaker in the 1980s. The club also interviewed former employees working at the club in the 1970s and 1980s. They said: 

“All interviewees provided their full cooperation and information relating to the former caretaker has been included in 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 United that are considered relevant by the review team.”

Contact Richard Egan of Tuckers Solicitors, Child Sex Offence Defence Lawyer (London, Birmingham, Manchester & Leeds)

If you are facing allegations of historic sex abuse, professional tribunal representation or child sex offences, Richard Egan can provide immediate advice and assistance. We are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and can provide specialist criminal defence. There is no time to delay, contact Richard on 02033895072.