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Aston Villa warned over bullying and alienation of young players

Report: U-23 Coach subject of FA investigation

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Aston Villa Training Session and Press Conference Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images

The Aston Villa vaulted youth system is under review by the Football Association for the treatment of young players. The report is an exclusive by The Daily Telegraphafter being given access to the complaints filed by one player and his family against U-23 coach and former caretaker manager Kevin MacDonald.

Following an inquiry, the Premier League took issue with both individuals and the club as a whole.

  • MacDonald was accused of emotional bullying, public shaming of players, using alienation as punishment, along with daily insults and abusive language.
  • Multiple club personnel failed to “take responsibility for dealing with the concerns (after being raised by player and parent).”
  • The club showed “a lack of focus on player welfare, [and] failure by the club to implement its procedures and poor communications”
  • Aston Villa did not adequately communicate with the aggrieved party — despite repeated attempts to collect information on the investigation.

In a letter to the complainant — the Premier League’s safeguarding department acknowledged, “The club has demonstrated improvement under new management with a renewed emphasis being placed on safeguarding and welfare.”

The Daily Telegraph received a statement from the club acknowledging the investigation and their full cooperation with it — while not commenting on any specific allegations. The club as recently appointed a full-time safeguarding and welfare officer.