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Aston Villa under-23s boss Kevin MacDonald 'reassigned' after fresh bullying claims

Villa have removed under-23s boss Kevin MacDonald from working with players following allegations of bullying from former player Gareth Farrelly.

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An independent investigation has been launched following claims made by Farrelly in a national newspaper of “relentless bullying” from MacDonald during the mid-1990s.

In an interview with the Guardian, Farrelly accused MacDonald of “incredibly aggressive, constant verbal and physical bullying” and said it “took me to a place at 20 that nobody should have to go to. And I wouldn’t wish it on anybody.”

MacDonald is often credited with helping launch the careers of a host of players since first joining Villa as a coach in 1994.

But Farrelly, who joined Villa as a 17-year-old in 1992, responded: “I say, and I maintain this position, that his regime destroyed far more kids than he ever developed.”

Farrelly, who is now a qualified solicitor, claims he was prompted to tell his story after reading of a previous inquiry into MacDonald in February 2017 which found evidence of “bullying, aggressive behaviour and unacceptable language.”

Villa immediately referred Farrelly’s allegations to the local authorities, FA and the EFL and an independent investigation, led by a barrister, has already begun.

Though MacDonald, who was placed in caretaker charge of the first-team for the third time following Steve Bruce’s sacking in October, has not been suspended, the club has made clear he will not be working with players until the investigation is complete.

A club statement read: “The club was contacted yesterday by a national newspaper with allegations of bullying against Kevin MacDonald made by a former player from the 1990s.

“The club referred these allegations immediately to its local authority and the football authorities and with their agreement has commissioned an independent investigation into the former player’s complaints.

“That investigation will commence immediately and as a neutral act Kevin has been temporarily reassigned to non-player facing duties pending the completion.”