Eight men who were sexually abused by paedophile football coach Barry Bennell have taken Manchester City to court over their ordeal. The men are claiming damages in High Court from the club. Although the men are now in their late 40s or early 50s, they claim they suffered “very serious psychiatric injuries” as a result of the abuse. Hence, the attempt to claim damages.
The abuse took place while Bennell is said to have been working for City as a scout and coach of the club’s “feeder teams”. These featured players too young to be signed as schoolboys.
Bennell is currently serving a 31-year jail term for several such offences. The men that have instituted the High Court action are part of 12 boys he coached that were abused between 1979 and 1991.
Bennell had two three-year spells within Man City’s youth network between 1976 and 1984. But he is thought not to have received an official salary from the club during the period. After leaving City, he later worked as Crewe Alexandra’s youth team coach for seven years.
Yet, the claimants are resolute that while Bennell was not officially on City’s “books”, the club is still vicariously liable for the abuse and so should pay damages.
As it stands, all but one of the eight men are claiming damages for “the loss of a chance to pursue a career as a footballer”.
Moreover, two of the men have sued Crewe. But the two clubs involved deny that they are vicariously liable for the abuse committed. City and Crewe have argued both that the claims have been brought too late to be heard by the court, and against the extent to which the abuse is said to have caused the claimants financial or other losses.
An eight-week trial where all eight claims will be heard together has now been provisionally listed to commence in October 2021, as ordered by Mrs Justice Lambert.