The Football Association has today issued the following statement:
It was confirmed at today’s FA Board meeting that 99% of FA grassroots affiliated youth clubs, covering 62,238 teams, have renewed their safeguarding commitment.
This measure, and the positive response rate, is part of a continuing process through the remainder of this season, so that grassroots clubs are delivering on their responsibilities and ensuring the game is played in a safe and fun environment.
Clubs still not compliant to date have been temporarily suspended from all forms of football, including playing and training, and are now working with County FAs to do this as quickly as possible. It is important to stress that failing to complete the commitment does not necessarily mean clubs and teams are not compliant with safeguarding standards, just that they have failed to meet the confirmation deadline.
FA Chairman Greg Clarke said: “The current response by English football at all levels has been commendable. However, the challenge now is to reach out to those clubs that still need our assistance so that our safeguarding standards remain robust.”
In addition, the Premier League has contacted its clubs – at shareholder, head of academy and head of community level – to confirm that everyone involved in the development of young people in their role is aware of the different organisations, both within and outside of football, they can contact should they have any safeguarding concerns. The Premier League has also written to the parents of all its clubs’ academy players to highlight the high standard of safeguarding provisions currently in place at clubs.
Separately, the English Football League has contacted each of its 72 member clubs, all of whom have renewed their commitment to safeguarding, including safe recruitment practices and ongoing training for staff at all levels.
Following on from his meeting with Andy Woodward last month, the Chairman met with survivors and victims Ian Ackley, Derek Bell, Paul Stewart and David White this week.
“I was humbled to hear their stories and their thoughts and views on safeguarding children in football, both past and present,” he said.
“We will continue to listen to victims and survivors throughout this process and look forward to maintaining this constructive dialogue.”
On 6 December, The FA confirmed it had appointed Clive Sheldon QC to oversee an independent review into issues arising from the recent press reports relating to allegations of non-recent child sexual abuse in football.
The FA is committed to full disclosure of the review’s findings, subject to any legal restrictions, and the Terms of Reference remain open to amendment should it be deemed necessary by external counsel or The FA. A separate update on this work will be issued on behalf of Clive Sheldon QC via the appointed secretariat, Sport Resolutions.
Operation Hydrant has worked with The FA to adapt its victim survivor reporting factsheet to help guide those in football who need to understand the facts around reporting and the police investigation process.
The Safeguarding Commitment as referenced above is a refreshed version of the affiliation requirements for clubs with youth teams.
Should any fixture be cancelled as a result of a suspension to comply with the Safeguarding Commitment then the respective League will be able to take action for non-fulfillment of a fixture in accordance with the League rules. For any FA Charter Standard Development Club affected, any suspension for safeguarding non-compliance may also result in their FA Charter Standard accreditation being removed.
Separately as confirmed on 27 November, the Child Protection in Sport Unit, which has assisted The FA in relation to its safeguarding policy and procedures since 2000, will be carrying out an independent audit into The FA's current practices to ensure that all practices are at the highest standard.
This audit, which is part of the CPSU’s regular review of The FA’s safeguarding work, is due to take place at the beginning of 2017. The audit will not consider the non-recent allegations but will complement and inform The FA's response to the review.
The FA continues to work closely with the relevant authorities and respects the on-going investigation by the police being coordinated by Operation Hydrant into childhood sexual abuse in football. This will at times mean information regarding regulatory processes cannot be disclosed, irrespective of our absolute commitment to transparency wherever possible.
Anyone who was a childhood victim of sexual abuse in football should call the NSPCC helpline on 0800 023 2642 which is staffed by independent, experienced NSPCC professionals and available 24 hours a day, who will signpost people on to further support.
FA letters sent on 6, 9 and 15 December to all non-compliant clubs reminding them of the need to complete the survey with further reminders this past weekend, 17-18 December. Additional contact made throughout by County FAs and FA personnel; via email and calls. Ongoing work with clubs to review their safeguarding practices, including sampling across the country in January 2017.
To access the terms of reference of the QC-led review, click here.