One of eight men who sued Manchester City for abuse at the hands of former pedophile scout Barry Bennell criticized the club for not apologizing.
The men are claiming damages from the club in Superior Court, as they say Bennell was a city employee at the time of the abuse. The city denies that was the case.
Ian Ackley, who has waived his right to anonymity, told a judge in a written statement: ‘I feel completely spent by Manchester City. They have completely exhausted me. The lack of an apology from Manchester City has always been a frustration because it was widely known that Bennell would effectively feed the teams to Manchester City and had a close relationship with them.
One of Barry Bennell’s victims (pictured) criticized Manchester City for lack of apology
Ian Ackley, who has waived his right to anonymity, said he would have been a First Division footballer “with a chance to play for England” had he not been abused by Bennell.
“They have indicated that they want to resolve things, but this is contradicted by their actions,” Judge Johnson heard.
“I am amazed at how long the process has been and at the club’s lack of openness and cooperation. I don’t understand why they take the position they are taking, it has lasted so long, it is something I want to leave behind.
“It feels like my whole life is in limbo, I want to move my life forward, I feel very trapped. I want them to apologize and finally acknowledge what happened. ”
Ackley, who has been diagnosed with PTSD, said he would have been a First Division footballer “with a chance to play for England” had he not been abused by Bennell.
He played for both Manchester United and Rochdale but failed to deliver on the promise he had shown and walked away from professional football at the age of 17.
Ackley said that Bennell approached his father when he was nine years old, introduced himself as Manchester City’s Northwest Regional Scout, and also had a business card showing this.
Eight men, all in their 40s and 50s, say Bennell abused them and are suing the senior club.
The men are claiming damages from the club in Superior Court, as they say Bennell was a city employee at the time of the abuse.
The former player, who said he had trained with Sheffield United at the age of eight, added that he later played for one of Bennell’s youth teams and often took him to train at City’s Platt Lane training ground, with City coaches.
He added that players sometimes wore City uniforms and that, at one point, he turned down an offer to try out with Aston Villa.
The judge heard how Bennell abused Ackley for three years, and Representative James Counsell QC told the judge that the repeated attacks “ affected him psychologically and, unsurprisingly, he became disillusioned with football. ”
“I think he would have had a similar career to Paul Lake, who played for Manchester City and England as a central midfielder,” Ackley wrote in his witness statement.
“He was left-handed, but he could use both feet well and he was very fast. The abuse affected my concentration during games and slowly but surely burdened my confidence, which in turn affected my form, which affected my confidence, a vicious cycle, until I ended up being a shadow of my old self.
Ideally, I would have stayed at Manchester United and progressed in my career, but by then the abuse had already taken a toll on my mental health and my confidence. I think he would have done it as a First Division footballer and would have had the opportunity to play for England. ”
Manchester City deny Bennell was an employee or in a ‘job-related’ relationship
Bennell’s card has the name of the city on it and says he was their ‘Northwest Representative’
Ackley, who now has a role with the Professional Soccer Players Association, is part of a group that claims damages after suffering psychiatric injuries. Six also claim damages for potential loss of income.
Ackley is looking for close to £ 230,000. The men say they were abused by Bennell when they played youth soccer more than 30 years ago and claim that Bennell was operating as a city scout at the time.
City bosses disagree, and attorneys representing the club say Bennell was a ‘local scout’ in the mid-1970s, but did not have a role in the 1980s and was not in a relationship. ‘similar to employment’ in ‘material times’.
City say the matter is “out of their control” and has been passed “to the relevant Football League insurers.”
They say the club is named in the case ‘only as a formality’.