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Graham Taylor 'was warned of abuse' at Aston Villa

By David Banner | Birmingham | Crime | Published:

Former England boss Graham Taylor was warned about possible sexual abuse of young players during his time as Aston Villa manager but suggested it should be swept "underneath the carpet", a victim has claimed.

Graham Taylor

It was claimed in January that Villa sacked scout Ted Langford after learning of the sexual abuse allegations in 1988 but did not alert police.

Langford, who died in 2012, later admitted sex offences dating from 1976 until he left Villa in 1989. He had joined Villa from Leicester in 1987. He was jailed for three years in 2007 for offences against young footballers.

In an interview with the BBC's Victoria Derbyshire show, former Leicester footballer Tony Brien claimed he was told by Taylor when advising Villa of his concerns: "Look, you're a young lad starting out in the game. I know you've just made your debut. Could you really be dealing with all the obscenities from the terraces? So I just suggest you sweep it underneath the carpet."

Brien said he was immediately upset, and recalled: "I went into the kitchen where my mother was still doing the washing-up and she said, 'Well?'. And i just told her, 'They told me to sweep it underneath the carpet', and I broke down in tears."

Taylor died in January this year aged 72. He was manager at Villa from 1987 to 1990, when he left to take charge of the England team.

Former defender Brien, who waived his right to anonymity to speak about his ordeal, is reported to have informed Villa in the 1987-88 season that he knew from personal experience, from the ages of 12 to 14, that boys were at risk, having suffered abuse at Dunlop Terriers. Managed by Langford, Dunlop Terriers were a feeder side for Leicester and then Villa.

According to the Guardian, the independent inquiry into football's sexual abuse scandal is also looking at a separate allegation that another of Langford's victims came forward with information and that he too was discouraged by Taylor from pursuing the matter after being visited at home by the manager and another member of Villa's staff.

Brien, giving evidence to the inquiry last month, reportedly said that he summoned the courage to report Langford at the age of 18, when a coach left Leicester for Villa and Langford went with him.

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Villa say they cannot comment on specific allegations involving Langford because of "ongoing legal proceedings". A statement to the Guardian read: "The club has co-operated fully with the ongoing Football Association investigation and takes the safeguarding and welfare of all players and staff very seriously and considers it to be of paramount importance.

"The club now has robust safeguarding polices and procedures in place to deal with any new and historic complaints raised."

Leicester said in a statement, first issued in January: "We have no indication of any current or historic allegations made against or in relation to employees of Leicester City Football Club. We would, of course, investigate fully in the event any further information comes to light."

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