Eight men sue Manchester City claiming abuse at the hands of former scout

Barry Bennell is serving a 34-year prison sentence after being convicted of sexual offences against boys.

Eight men have begun damages claims against Manchester City, saying a former scout sexually and emotionally abused them.

Barry Bennell targeted them when they were playing youth football more than 30 years ago, the High Court's been told.

All the men, who can't be named for legal reasons, are now aged in their 40s and 50s and want damages from the club.

Manchester City dispute that Bennell was an employee of the club at the time of the incidents.

But a claimant said he "quite clearly" had a role at City in the 1980s, one of the eight men said at the trial today.

He told Mr Justice Johnson that "everybody knew" Bennell at Manchester City.

The man, the first of the eight to give evidence at the trial, recalled first meeting Bennell in the early 1980s when a schoolboy.

Bennell had approached his father and carried a blue card describing him as Manchester City's "north-west representative", he said.

The man said he subsequently trained at Manchester City's training ground.

Manchester City dispute that Bennell was an employee of the club at the time of the incidents. Credit: Press Association

The man, who, the judge heard, wants more than £200 000 in compensation for lost earnings, said Manchester City "had some control" over Bennell.

Mr Justice Johnson, who is overseeing a trial in the High Court in London, has heard the eight men were sexually and emotionally abused by Bennell between 1979 and 1985, and are claiming damages after suffering psychiatric injuries.

Six are also claiming damages for loss of potential football earnings.

The club's lawyers say Bennell was a "local scout" in the mid-1970s but say he did not have a role in the 1980s.

The judge has heard that Bennell, who worked as a coach at Crewe Alexandra, is serving a 34-year prison sentence after being convicted of sexual offences against boys on five separate occasions - four in the UK and one in the US - and is being held at Littlehey prison near Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire.

The hearings are due to last several weeks.