Former Chelsea star Gary Johnson has revealed he was paid £50,000 by the club to not go public about being sexually abused by former chief scout Eddie Heath.
The Premier League side are reported to have paid off Johnson in the last three years following allegations regarding Heath, and in an interview with the Daily Mirror the ex-Blues forward bravely waived his anonymity to expose the club’s actions.
“I think they were paying me to keep a lid on this,” Johnson told the Mirror.
“Millions of fans around the world watch Chelsea. They are one of the biggest and richest clubs in the world. All their fans deserve to know the truth about what went on.
“I know they asked me to sign a gagging order and how many others are there out there. They may have paid others for their silence.
“I hope and pray no clubs are allowed to cover this up; no one should escape justice. We need total transparency now for the good of the game.
“What makes me so angry is that I went to them to say I had been abused and they basically said, ‘prove it’.”
Johnson, 57, played for Chelsea’s first team from 1978 to 1981 after joining the club at 11 in 1970, and claimed he had been groomed by Heath from the age of 13. Heath died before the allegations were made.
Speaking candidly to the Mirror, Johnson details how the abuse started, revealing the depraved acts Heath made him perform. It’s uncomfortable reading, made worse by the fact such a big name in English football covered it up. You can read the entire interview here.
Chelsea – the 7th most valuable club in the world owned by Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, valued at £1.35billion – have released a statement:
On Thursday, the Football Association chief executive Martin Glenn drew a line in the sand, saying any club guilty of
covering up abuse would be punished.
“We have clear rules in the game and if there’s any evidence of a breach of those – and hushing up would be one – when it’s our turn to apply the rules, we absolutely will, regardless of size of club,” he said.
This is the latest in a string of child abuse allegations in football, involving Heath and former Crewe Alexandra youth coach Barry Bennell, who the former trained at Chelsea.
In the wake of these fresh allegations, seventeen British police forces have confirmed they are investigating historic abuse in football, with the NSPCC revealing its dedicated football helpline received 860 calls during the first week.