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Aston Villa failed to report predatory scout to the police

A historical abuse case is emerging regarding the actions of Ted Langford, a Villa scout in the late eighties.

Aston Villa v Cardiff City - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Dave Thompson/Getty Images

An upsetting story has emerged from the pages of Villa’s history this morning on the BBC Victoria Derbyshire show. It is probably worth saying that there is some disturbing content in this article and although I would encourage you as the reader to educate yourself about this situation, it is understandable at this point you would turn away.

‘Aston Villa sacked a scout accused of sexually abusing boys in 1988 but did not go to police, the Victoria Derbyshire show has discovered. Ted Langford later admitted sex offences between 1976 and 1989, a year after he left the club. Tony Brien, who was abused from age 12, said he felt senior figures at the club pressed him not to pursue the matter. Then-assistant manager, Dave Richardson, strongly denies any role in deterring Mr Brien from going public. Mr Richardson, who later became head of youth development at the Premier League, said he did everything possible to protect young players.’

This was all raised with Villa’s leadership team of Graham Taylor and Doug Ellis and an investigation by Villa took place. However, the decision was that no further action would be taken and the police would not be involved as the parents of the abused children did not want this to go further, likely because of the subsequent media involvement.

Mr Brien was abused numerously while playing for Dunlop Terriers - his local youth team. It was Ted Langford, who ran the team. Langford said he needed to take a sample of sperm from Brien (and supposedly other young footballers) to determine whether the children had footballer’s genes or not.

It was alleged by Brien that Langford used to have a different boy in his bed at the abroad football camps run by Langford. Boys would appear in kit for the football camps with ‘love bites’ on their person. This was supported by a young player who told a similar account of abuse to the BBC on an unrelated occasion.

Langford passed away in 2012 ran the Terriers and scouted for Villa and Leicester through the 70’s and 80’s. It is of note that Ted Langford also worked for numerous schools in the West Midlands on the side. Langford was imprisoned for his sexual abuse crimes for three years from 2007.

Brien spoke about his abuse to a number of senior figures at Aston Villa, but was ‘put off’ from going public. He said he was asked if he could put up with the abuse from the crowd standing on the terraces if his allegations became known.

Dave Richardson, Villa’s assistant manager at the time has said that he had tried to help Brien - but redacted this statement at a later point.

After Richardson discussed this with Graham Taylor and Doug Ellis, Langford was sacked by the club. Richardson said that he felt there was not enough evidence and that the parents of the supposedly abused children did not want to take this further. It is important to note that there existed no legal requirement for either Richardson or the club to report Langford and their concerns to the police. Despite that fact, I cannot withdraw my personal opinion from this article and I fully believe that Langford should have been reported to the police as he only saw justice nearly twenty years after his crimes.

It is likely that rumors spread about Langford’s actions within the football community as he falls off the map after his time with Villa.

This case will form a large part of the investigation into historical abuse in football that is currently ongoing.

Thus it is so that another chapter emerges in the tale of child abuse in England by those with authoritative power. Whether it is a football scout, coach, teacher, parent, media figure - it seems that anyone who wanted to, could get away with anything they wanted to do because of the ‘unknown’ or ‘unseen’.

Aston Villa have today asked that people with an allegation regarding safeguarding or other wrongdoing should contact the authorities. It is of note that Aston Villa do have an established safeguarding team at this point. The creation of this page is the 1st of January 0001 - so it is unknown at which point this team was created.

If you’ve been affected by anything in this story, please do not hesitate to reach out. I’d be more than happy to speak to anyone, completely off the record about their issues or struggles about anything at all.

However, if the above article has affected to that point, reach out immediately to the authorities. There are two numbers below which are of help specifically to this article.

NSPCC helpline 0800 023 2642

FA Safeguarding Team 0800 169 1863