Ex-Chelsea player: Club paid me £50,000 to keep quiet about abuse

A former Chelsea player claims the club paid him £50,000 to keep quiet about the sex abuse he experienced at the hands of scout Eddie Heath.

Gary Johnson told The Daily Mirror he signed a "gagging order" as part of the settlement - but Chelsea waived the clause after details emerged.

The ex-striker said he had no other option but to approach his former club after having no success with the police and the Professional Footballers Association.

He said Chelsea FC refused to accept any blame, but paid him a lump sum last year.

Gary, who was part of Chelsea's first team from 1978 to 81, says he was groomed and sexually assaulted by Heath from the age of 13.

Now 57, he said: "I felt shame, I felt my childhood had been taken away. I spent my late teens in turmoil, absolute turmoil.

"Millions of fans around the world watch Chelsea. They are one of the biggest and richest clubs in the world.

“All their fans deserve to know the truth about what went on....They may have paid others for their silence."

Football Association boss Martin Glenn said he believed it unlikely there was an organised attempt to "cover up" sexual abuse in the game.

But he has promised to punish any club found guilty of doing so "regardless of size".

Chelsea have confirmed to ITV News they did make a pay-out to a former player who claims he was sexually abused by a scout at the club.

But say it was compensation though and not ‘hush’ money.

In a statement to The Mirror, Chelsea added: "The club have retained an external law firm to carry out an investigation concerning an individual employed by the club in the Seventies, who is now deceased.

“The club have also contacted the FA to ensure that all possible assistance is provided as part of their wider investigation.

"This will include providing the FA with any relevant information.”