Directors of football clubs across Tayside and Fife have been discussing a potential review of child protection procedures as the official probe into child sexual abuse allegations in football across the UK continues.
The Courier contacted all 12 of Tayside and Fife’s senior football clubs to find out what action they have taken in light of the UK-wide revelations about alleged abuse in football.
Whilst there have been no reports so far of any incidents linked to local clubs, many board members have been discussing the fallout from the abuse scandal which follows recent advice issued by the Scottish Football Association.
Of those who responded,a Dundee United FC spokesperson said: “Dundee United has a stringent set of procedures in place to ensure the welfare and safety of its young players and indeed all its employees.
“In accordance with the Scottish FA licensing requirements, the club employs a child well being and protection officer and ensures all safety checks are carried out on employees that work with young people.”
Raith Rovers chief executive Eric Drysdale said: “The matter is certainly being treated with all seriousness by the club. Our board will discuss it next week.
“No matters have been brought to our attention in the meantime. If they are they will be dealt with fairly and firmly.”
Cowdenbeath FC Finance director David Allan said: “This is of course an important issue. Indeed the matter was being discussed at a meeting of some board members today.
“Any of our coaches who deal with children are registered and checked via Disclosure Scotland in line with SFA directives.
“We also already had in train before all the recent publicity on this matter a review of our policies on areas such as child well being and protection, anti-bullying, etc.”
Dunfermline Athletic chairman Ross McArthur said:”The SFA in general has been looking at a review of child protection issues and this has been the subject of our last two board meetings.”
East Fife FC director and safety officer John Donaldson – former child protection officer at Bayview – said the club had been historically tarnished by the reputation of former chairman and prominent lawyer Julian Danskin, who was jailed in 1999 after being convicted of three sex offences against young Boys Brigade members when he was their captain.
However, there was nothing to suggest that Danskin, who severed all ties with the club in 2001, had ever had contact with young players – his offences were all through the BB.
All coaches and staff at the club were PVG checked in line with SFA rules.
Lorna McAuley, head of the award-winning East Fife Youth Academy, said she had never heard of any abuse within youngsters’ football in Fife or beyond.
But she said that if anything has happened locally she hoped the sport would support victims in coming forward.
Arbroath FC chairman John Christison said: “We don’t have a youth football team at Gayfield – although we have done in the past. We have had all communications in from the SFA. We are aware of what’s going on and the matters will be further discussed at board meetings.”
Brechin City Vice-chairman Martin Smith said the issues were on the agenda for the club’s board meeting tonight.
Forfar Athletic Secretary David McGregor said: “We are keeping a close eye on the situation and following advice issued by the SFA.”
A Montrose FC spokesman said: “We take these matters very seriously and will discuss them when the board meets next week.”
Dundee, St Johnstone, and Alloa football clubs were also contacted for comment by The Courier but they did not respond.
It is less than three weeks since ex-Crewe Alexandra defender Andy Woodward waived his right to anonymity to say he was a victim of sexual abuse as a young footballer.
Since then 350 people have alleged they are victims and 55 amateur and professional football clubs have been linked to allegations of historic abuse.
A dedicated sexual abuse helpline, set up by the NSPCC and supported by the English FA, received 860 calls within its first three days.
In Scotland, former youth football coach and top flight referee Hugh Stevenson, who died in 2004, has since been accused by Peter Haynes, 50, of sexually abusing him over a three to four year period.
Scottish Football Association chief executive Stewart Regan “apologised deeply” to Haynes, and told the BBC his organisation took full responsibility for child protection failings of the past.
Meanwhile, it also emerged on Wednesday that a former football coach has been arrested in Northern Ireland over sex abuse claims.
Jim McCafferty, 71, who was involved in football in Scotland and Ireland from the 1980s, was arrested in Belfast by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) after walking into a police station.
It follows an interview that McCafferty, originally from Wishaw, North Lanarkshire, gave to the Irish Mirror newspaper.
McCafferty, who now lives in Belfast, was formerly a kit man at Celtic, Hibs and Falkirk.
Detective Superintendent Deirdre Bones, from the PSNI’s public protection branch, said: “A 71-year-old male has been arrested by detectives after presenting himself at a station in Belfast.
“He was arrested on suspicion of sexual offences against children in Northern Ireland. He is currently helping police with their inquiries.”
A police spokesman said: “Police Scotland has received a report of non-recent sexual abuse and will commence inquiries to establish the full circumstances surrounding this matter.”