Crewe Alexandra finally broke their silence on football’s sex abuse scandal and admitted more could have been done to stop paedophile Barry Bennell.
But there was no mention in the 352-word statement about former Crewe boss Dario Gradi, who has been banned from football since 2016 because he represents a potential risk to children.
Gradi hired Bennell to work as a youth coach in 1987, but has denied being aware that the convinced paedophile – now serving 34 years in prison – had a sexual interest in boys.
Crewe’s statement is the first time they have made any public comment on the matter since details of the appalling catalogue of abuse – committed across eight clubs – emerged in 2016.
In the statement, Crewe acknowledge that “more could have been done to monitor the situation concerning Mr Bennell”.
The statement also accepts culpability in not acting upon indications that youngsters were being abused by 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 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.”
The statement was released in the wake of the Sheldon Report, which concluded Gradi “should have done more” to investigate concerns about Bennell when he worked at Crewe.