Chelsea vow to assist in abuse allegations against former coaches

LONDON -- Chelsea have pledged to assist the football authorities after allegations of racist and physical abuse against former coaches Graham Rix and Gwyn Williams, made by three former youth team players, surfaced on Friday.

A report in The Guardian revealed that Chelsea received a letter in February initiating a civil claim and detailing the allegations, which date from the 1990s and include accusations of numerous racist comments made by both men towards the young prospects, as well as claims of physical attacks by Rix.

The allegations against Rix relate to his time as Chelsea youth team coach. He is accused of persistently directing racist epithets and insults towards the black players under his authority, while it is also claimed that he punched, kicked and threw a cup of hot coffee into the face of one player who challenged him about his conduct.

Williams, a close friend of former Chelsea chairman Ken Bates who served as the club's chief scout and assistant manager during a 27-year spell at Stamford Bridge, is not accused of any physical assaults, but it is alleged that he subjected black youth players to sustained racist abuse.

The Guardian report that police concluded there was insufficient evidence to take criminal action against Rix and Williams after a seven-month investigation, but two of the players involved have been interviewed by the Football Association's safeguarding team.

"We take allegations of this nature extremely seriously," a Chelsea statement read. "We are absolutely determined to do the right thing, to fully support those affected, assist the authorities and support their investigations."

Chelsea declined to comment further on the issue when contacted by ESPN FC, but The Guardian report that they have launched their own internal enquiry and have offered in-house counselling to one of the individuals affected.

Both men denied "all and any allegations of racial or other abuse" in a statement through their lawyer, Eddie Johns.

"Our clients deny all and any allegations of racial or other abuse," the statement said. "These allegations were the subject of a thorough investigation by specialist officers of the Metropolitan Police Service. The MPS did not consider there was sufficient evidence even to report it to the Crown Prosecution Service. Our clients cooperated with that investigation.

"The allegations in the Guardian newspaper are contained, as we understand it, within correspondence sent to Chelsea Football Club. That correspondence has not been seen by our clients or by us."

"No correspondence has been sent to our clients or us by these individuals or those representing them. We will of course deal with any allegations if made directly to our clients. Our clients are cooperating fully with the FA in this matter."

Rix, 60, served six months in prison in 1999 after admitting two charges of unlawful sex with a 15-year-old and indecent assault, but he was reinstated by Chelsea on his release. He subsequently managed Portsmouth, Oxford United and Hearts.

Williams left Chelsea in 2006 to serve as technical director at Leeds United after Bates bought the club but was dismissed for gross misconduct in 2013 after being found to have emailed pornographic images of women to several colleagues.