Police Urged to Investigate Historic Sexual Abuse at Stoke City FC

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Kate Hall

Solicitor, Abuse

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George Blackstock and seven other former apprentice players are asking for a new investigation to take place into their allegations of abuse at Stoke City FC. 

Speaking to the Times, George Blackstock said he had “suffered deeply” and still continues to suffer every day as a result of the abuse he experienced and the way in which it was handled.

As Abuse Solicitors, we know the devastating effects that suffering abuse as a child can have on people later in life. If you’ve experienced abuse in childhood, we could help you access support and compensation. Get in touch for a free no-obligation chat.

What has Been the Police Response?

Staffordshire Police have confirmed that they are looking into allegations of historical abuse at Stoke City after receiving fresh complaints in 2022. But they have not yet confirmed if a previous case lodged by George Blackstock will be reopened.

George Blackstock has said on the matter, “I have said repeatedly that I will continue my fight for justice for myself and others who were affected at the club and I have done. Now other people have come forward with their own experiences of ‘the glove’, others have come forward as witnesses and more have come forward with their knowledge of what went on at Stoke FC at the time.”

The Glove’ is referred to by George Blackstock and the fellow six victims as a vicious act that was inflicted upon them during their time at the club in the 1970s and 80s. The men claim they were forced to lie down, or be held down, and degraded by having a goalie’s glove covered in Deep Heat and inserted into their bottoms, or rubbed on their genitals. This was also used on youth players according to George Blackstock if their duties had not been carried out correctly.

In 2010 the Crown Prosecution Service decided not to pursue a prosecution over Mr Blackstock’s claims because it was not believed at the time the case could be proved beyond reasonable doubt – but him and others are pushing the police to reopen the investigation, as since his original report, there have been additional  victims and witnesses that have come forward.

Staffordshire Police have stated that “investigations of this nature remain under scrutiny and if new information becomes available it is to be examined in the context of the overall case.”

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How Does Abuse Happen in Sports Clubs?

When parents send their children to a sports club, they trust that they will be looked after. Unfortunately, we know that in some cases, this trust is abused by people in positions of power.

At Stoke City football club, George Blackstock and other apprentice players have alleged that they were put in positions where they could be abused by numerous adult footballers, not just the goalkeeper Peter Fox.

Sadly, we’ve seen multiple cases where people who were abused as a child felt unable to speak out at the time because of the intimidation they experienced. This can be made even worse when there is more than one person inflicting the abuse or allowing it to take place.

In recent years, we’ve seen more media coverage that has shone a light on horrific abuse carried out in some of the country’s most prominent football clubs. In 2018, the conviction of youth football coach Barry Bennell was widely publicised and shortly afterwards, Manchester City launched an independent inquiry which uncovered further abuse that had taken place within the club.  

Manchester City has since launched a redress scheme for former players to provide a “speedier, cheaper and more predictable means of compensation”. We hope other football clubs like Stoke City will implement similar redress schemes to make the process more accessible.

Latest Developments

Since George Blackstock’s initial reports in 2010, there have been two investigations and fresh allegations relating to abuse in Stoke City FC. In October 2023, The Times reported that there are a number of former footballers who have complained to the Staffordshire police about their handling of this investigation and we would expect there to be further developments following this.

Contact Us

Taking legal action after suffering abuse as a child can be extremely difficult and the idea of talking about your past experiences may feel daunting. We understand this, and if you decide to instruct us, we’ll handle your case with sensitivity and empathy.

When you’re ready to talk, we’re ready to listen. We’ll work hard to get you the best outcome for your case as well as helping you to access support networks in your area. Get in touch with our expert Child Abuse Law team on 0808 239 1287 for initial advice.

References:

The Times. (n.d.). Stoke City: Police Urged to Investigate Abuse Which Left Young Players Traumatized. [Online] Available at: https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/stoke-city-police-urged-to-investigate-abuse-which-left-young-players-traumatised-xbvwp6tkr

Belfast Live. (2021, June 15). Stoke City FC Centre Child Abuse: Police Could Reopen Investigation After New Allegations. [Online] Available at: https://www.belfastlive.co.uk/news/belfast-news/stoke-city-fc-centre-child-20834825

The Times. (n.d.). Stoke City Abuse Allegations: "I Dreamed of Being a Star. Decades On, I Am Still Suffering." [Online] Available at: https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/stoke-city-abuse-allegations-i-dreamed-of-being-a-star-decades-on-i-am-still-suffering-ndrzx68mn

BBC News. (2015, July 16). Stoke City Football Club: Five Men Arrested in Sex Abuse Inquiry. [Online] Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-stoke-staffordshire-33555987

The Times. (n.d.). Complaints Over Police Investigation into Alleged Abuse at Stoke. [Online] Available at: https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/complaints-over-police-investigation-into-alleged-abuse-at-stoke-rs3fxctnp

Kate Hall

Solicitor, Abuse

Areas of Expertise:
Abuse Claims

Kate works as a Solicitor in our Abuse Claims Department.

After completing her education at Leeds Beckett University in 2018, Kate decided to specialise in Abuse Claims. Within this department, she has gained experience dealing with Civil Claims against various institutions including local authorities, public schools, religious institutions and charitable organisations. This includes the Manchester Homes 2 Group Action and the claims against Manchester City Council for abuse at St Anne’s School. Kate has also successfully navigated claims through the Lambeth and Manchester City Redress Schemes.

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