Celtic express 'sorrow and regret' to victims of sex abuse coach

Former Celtic youth coach Jim McCafferty
Former Celtic youth coach Jim McCafferty

Celtic have expressed their "sorry and regret" to victims of a sexually abusive coach, but have stopped short of issuing a full and unreserved apology.

Former Celtic football youth coach and Hibs kitman Jim McCafferty was last week jailed for six years and nine months for sexually abusing a former Celtic star and nine other aspiring players.

McCafferty, 73, targeted the boys, who cannot be named for legal reasons, between 1972 and 1996.

The High Court in Edinburgh heard how McCafferty carried out the abuse whilst acting as a kit man and a coach for youth football teams across central Scotland.

READ MORE: Former Celtic youth football coach jailed for sex abuse
He managed to secure positions with Celtic Boys Club and Celtic FC and parents who sent their children to play for his teams “respected” him as being an “experienced coach”.

McCafferty had lived in Glasgow before moving to Northern Ireland in recent years.

In a statement issued this afternoon by Celtic in the wake of last week's sentencing, the club said: "James McCafferty has pled guilty to offences he committed against young people between 1972 and 1996. Celtic Football Club wishes to express its regret and sorrow to those young people.

"McCafferty, who was employed by Celtic Football Club in the mid 1990s, committed these acts many years ago across a number of organisations, and all those who have come forward to report abuse and to give evidence deserve enormous praise for the courage they have shown.

"We offer our sincere sympathy to those young people, their families and all those involved.

"These are very sensitive issues, particularly for those who suffered abuse. When the allegations were published in the media in 2016, Celtic Football Club encouraged any individuals involved to report all information to the police so that these matters could be investigated fully and the club continues to encourage any victim of abuse to report these matters to the police.

"Celtic Football Club takes all of its responsibilities seriously, stands by its responsibilities and will continue to do so.

"The abuse of children has affected many areas of society, including football clubs, sports clubs, youth organisations, educational institutions and religious bodies across Britain.

"Celtic Football Club strongly believes that children and young people involved in football have the right to protection from all forms of harm and abuse and is committed to ensuring this and to promoting their wellbeing through continued cooperation with our children and young people, parents and carers and the relevant authorities.

"Celtic Football Club was the first club in Scotland to appoint a safeguarding officer, responsible for developing our policies for the protection of young people, and monitoring and reviewing our procedures to ensure they continue to reflect best practice."