83 suspects, 98 clubs 'impacted' in football abuse probe

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British police have revealed that 83 potential suspects have been identified in a probe into historical sexual abuse in football.

The National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC) also said that 98 football clubs have been "impacted", ranging from amateur teams to those in the Premier League, though this does not mean that all are under investigation by any of the 21 forces that are looking into the matter.

An NSPCC helpline was set up in the aftermath of former Manchester City winger David White and ex-Crewe Alexandra players Andy Woodward and Steve Walters accusing former Crewe employee Barry Bennell of abusing them when they were young footballers.

The helpline has so far received over 600 referrals and continues to receive calls. The number of estimated victims is 350.

Other players, including former England internationals Paul Stewart and Matt Le Tissier have described incidents from their own formative years in the game, while it has been revealed that Chelsea paid Gary Johnson £50,000 to prevent him disclosing allegations of abuse at the hands of former scout Eddie Heath.

The Football Association have launched a review into the allegations, earlier this week appointing Clive Sheldon QC to oversee a broadened scope after Kate Gallafent QC was selected when it was first announced last month.

NPCC lead for Child Protection, chief constable Simon Bailey said: "Allegations received by police forces across the country are being swiftly acted upon.

"We are ensuring an efficient and effective service-wide approach to investigating allegations, removing the potential for duplication and enabling the timely and effective sharing of intelligence and information between forces. 

"We are also liaising closely with the Football Association to ensure all relevant information they hold is shared to inform investigations moving forward."