Chelsea 'offer Gary Johnson £50,000 to keep sexual abuse claims quiet'

Former Chelsea player Gary Johnson says that he was paid £50,000 by the club to keep his claims of child sexual abuse quiet.

Former Chelsea forward Gary Johnson has claimed that the Premier League club paid him £50,000 to keep his sexual abuse hell silent.

The 57-year-old is the latest ex-footballer to waive their right to anonymity to speak out about the crimes suffered at youth level.

Johnson has alleged that he was sexually assaulted by Chelsea chief scout Eddie Heath numerous times across a three-year spell from the age of 13.

He has claimed that he turned to the police and the Professional Footballers Association, but was unsuccessful on both fronts, which led him to speak to Chelsea last year.

Johnson, who played in the Blues' first team between 1978 and 1981, has alleged that the club - owned by Russian businessman Roman Abramovich - offered him a hefty fee for what he believes was his silence.

In an interview with The Mirror, Johnson said: "I felt shame, I felt my childhood had been taken away. I spent my late teens in turmoil, absolute turmoil.

"I think that they were paying me to keep a lid on this. 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. I know they asked me to sign a gagging order and how many others are there out there?

"They may have paid others for their silence. I hope and pray no clubs are allowed to cover this up - no one should escape justice. We need total transparency now for the good of the game."

Chelsea reportedly waived the clause in Johnson's settlement preventing him from speaking publicly about the abuse after his claims were leaked to the media.

Under Premier League regulations, clubs are obliged to inform the league and the Football Association of any evidence relating to child abuse, and it is not known whether Chelsea attempted to do so.

The National Police Chiefs' Council revealed on Thursday that 350 victims of child sexual abuse in football have come forward.

Dortmund's midfielder Ilkay Guendogan (R), Dortmund's striker Marco Reus (C) and Dortmund's Gabonese striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang celebrate after Reus scored during the UEFA Europa League third qualifying round second leg football match between Borus
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