London (AFP) – Manchester City will face a High Court trial over damages claims from eight men who were sexually abused by paedophile football coach Barry Bennell.
Bennell’s abuse took place while he is said to have been working for City as a scout and coach of their «feeder teams», which featured players too young to be signed as schoolboys.
The eight men, who are now in their late 40s or early 50s, are all claiming damages against the Premier League club for the «very serious psychiatric injuries» they suffered as a result of the abuse.
Bennell is currently serving a 30-year jail term for multiple offences against 12 boys he coached, some of whom are bringing the High Court action, between 1979 and 1991.
Bennell, who is thought not to have received an official salary from City, had two three-year spells within the club’s youth network between 1976 and 1984.
He then went on to work as Crewe’s youth team coach for seven years.
The claimants argue that, while Bennell was not officially on City’s «books», the club is still vicariously liable for the abuse.
All but one of the eight are claiming damages for «the loss of a chance to pursue a career as a footballer».
Two of the men are also bringing claims against Crewe, where Bennell was employed as a youth coach after leaving City.
Both City and Crewe deny that they are vicariously liable for the abuse committed.
City and Crewe also argue that the claims have been brought too late to be heard by the court, and dispute the extent to which the abuse is said to have caused the claimants financial or other losses.
Mrs Justice Lambert ordered that all eight claims be heard together at an eight-week trial which is provisionally listed to start in October 2021.