Independent Football Review

Update: 17th March 2021

Independent Review into Child Sex Abuse Allegations in Football.

The Independent Review into child sex abuse allegations in football between 1970-2005, led by Mr Clive Sheldon QC, has now concluded. A copy of the Report can be found here

Sport Resolutions administered the Independent Review into Child Sex Abuse Allegations in Football.

For urgent media enquiries please contact our dedicated press line on +852 5665 5657.

Update: Tuesday 15 December 2020

Clive Sheldon QC has written to all survivors and survivor groups who have engaged with the Review he is conducting into child sexual abuse in football to provide them with an update on the Review’s progress. In that correspondence he explained that while his work is in the final stages it will not be possible to complete everything in time for the report to be finalised and provided to the FA before the end of the year. Mr Sheldon QC shares the frustration that his work has not quite finished yet and is doing everything he can to complete the work as soon as possible.

If there are survivors in need of support, they can access information here that outlines the support that is available to them: https://www.thefa.com/football-rules-governance/safeguarding/section-9-support-for-survivors, as well as directly from the PFA https://www.thepfa.com/charity/survivor-support-advocate. Alternate numbers for helplines outside of football are: NAPAC on their support line: 0808 801 0331 or NSPCC on their helpline: 0800 023 2642

Update | Thursday 6 August 2020

Clive Sheldon QC and his team have been commissioned by the Football Association to conduct an independent review into what the FA and various clubs knew about and did about concerns of child sexual abuse in the sport from 1970 to 2005. Mr Sheldon QC and his team have invited all survivors to contribute, and many have come forward with their testimony, for which we are indebted. 

The Review team understand the frustrations of survivors and others at the delays in the review reaching its conclusion. Mr Sheldon QC had hoped to complete his work far sooner. However, it was essential to ensure that ongoing criminal prosecutions were not prejudiced by the work of the review.  While the criminal prosecutions were ongoing Mr Sheldon QC and his team have continued to work on the complex and extensive investigations into what happened across football in England over a 35 year period. 

On 31 July 2020, Barry Bennell pleaded guilty to further charges brought against him. This has enabled Mr Sheldon QC and his team to make contact with further survivors. Mr Sheldon QC and his team are now in the process of completing their investigations and writing up the final report.

Update | ​Thursday 27 September 2018

Mr Clive Sheldon QC, who is leading the Independent Review into child sex abuse allegations in football, has announced that there will be a delay in completing the review into this important and complex work.

The Review into what the Football Association and Clubs knew and did about allegations of child sexual abuse between 1970 and 2005 has run concurrent to ongoing criminal investigations. In carrying out the Review, there has been close and constant cooperation with Operation Hydrant and the police forces around the country investigating allegations of abuse. It is of paramount importance, and is recorded in the Review’s terms of reference, that the Review does not in any way compromise any ongoing investigations. This has been a complex process and the timing for completing the work, in light of the ongoing investigations and cases, has been kept under constant review. 

Mr Sheldon QC expected to be able to finalise his Review after the summer, following the completion of three major criminal trials this year. However, the retrial of Bob Higgins, and the fact that there is an ongoing investigation into allegations against Barry Bennell, has required Mr Sheldon QC to review this position. Mr Sheldon QC intends his Review to be as comprehensive as possible, and has decided that he should not finalise his Review until he has had the opportunity to speak to more individuals associated with the re-trial of Bob Higgins and the outcome into the police investigation into allegations against Barry Bennell, and to receive and analyse any other information about abuse in football that may emerge over the coming months.

The Review is particularly interested in hearing from anyone who reported the abuse at the time to an employee or Board member of a football club or the FA, or had reason to believe that the FA or the clubs were aware of any allegations of abuse. The questionnaire can be accessed via the related links tab on the right-hand side​.

Clive Sheldon QC said:

“We have made good progress with the review and have now reached a crucial stage – hearing directly from survivors of abuse.

“Survivor testimony is critical to getting to the bottom of how abuse allegations were dealt with within football and to ensure that we take forward the right lessons.

“I fully understand the sensitivity of giving evidence, and we will do everything in our power to give survivors the opportunity to have their voice heard, including by taking anonymous evidence.

“I am hugely grateful to those who have felt able to come forward so far and would like to hear from as many other survivors as possible, particularly from the amateur game. Their testimony will be hugely valuable in our search for the truth.”

Notes to editors

For media enquiries please contact our press line on 07788 454 030 or email simonbuckby@hotmail.com.

The review team have taken the following steps to ensure that the process fully protects survivors that come forward:

  • All individual’s names are checked with Operation Hydrant in advance of any meeting to ensure that the meeting will not compromise ongoing criminal investigations. 
  • If information is passed to the Review that concerns an allegation of a criminal offence it will be passed on to Operation Hydrant. 
  • If any information raises a concern about someone currently involved in football we will pass that concern on to the FA to ensure that children are not put at risk.  
  • The Review will not publish information that will enable others to identify any interviewee, unless he has specifically consented to the publication.
  • If the survivor requests, the Review will not inform the FA that the meeting took place.
  • The Review will not refer to or mention the fact that the Review met with the survivor in any report unless the individual expressly consents.