Glasgow & West Scotland

Rangers abuse claim victim told to contact liquidators for compensation

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Media captionThe former youth footballer says he was abused in the 1980s at Ibrox by coach Gordon Neely

A former youth footballer who says he was sexually abused by a Rangers coach has been told by the club he should pursue his complaint with liquidators.

The man claims he was abused within the Ibrox stadium by Gordon Neely who was head of youth development in the 1980s.

But the alleged victim has been told by lawyers for Rangers that the duty of care is not with the current owners.

They said that when the abuse took place Rangers were owned by a different company which was now in liquidation.

The man, who is in his 40s, was offered help in accessing counselling services, but no apology was made in correspondence from the club's lawyers.

Alleged abuser now dead

An email sent to the solicitors of David - not his real name - explained: "You will understand that there have been many changes affecting Rangers over the last several years.

"The company which owned Rangers Football Club.... which you refer to as owing duties of care to your client will have been the company then called The Rangers Football Club PLC and now called RFC 2012 Limited.

"That company is currently in liquidation but we do have the liquidators' contact details and can provide that information if it will assist."

Last year the BBC revealed a catalogue of alleged abuse by Neely at various clubs, but he died in 2014 before facing justice.

He was in youth development at Hibs in 1983 and then moved to a similar role at Rangers in 1986.

Image caption Gordon Neely, pictured during his time at Ibrox in the 1980s, died in 2014
Image caption A delighted 11-year-old David with one of his Rangers heroes Chris Woods

That is where he came into contact with 11-year-old David.

He spoke to the BBC about his boyhood dream of playing at Ibrox: "I came from a working class family to be invited in your full Rangers tracksuit and shown about the stadium, walking up the marble stair case. It was a huge, huge event for me and my family."

David trained at the club for three years, but he said his encounter with Neely in his youth would have a terrible and lasting impact on his life.

'My life basically fell apart'

He explained: "[An] injury I was carrying was having a detrimental effect on my game and I was basically summoned to Gordon Neely's room, within the confines of Ibrox.

"He asked me to lay up on top of like a blue medical table, sort of dark, dark blue and he started rubbing my thigh, even though my injury was my hamstring.

"That happened for a minute or two, discussing the in and outs of why I wasn't playing so well. He then asked me to stand up and bend over the medical table and take my shorts down."

David says he was then sexually assaulted by Neely.

He added: "I've racked my brain for years and years to think 'was this a normal thing to do?' Obviously I know now that it's not.

"My life basically fell apart that night. Everything changed, everything changed that night. The heart went out of me for playing football, academically I stopped doing so well at school."

Image caption BBC Investigations correspondent Mark Daly interviewed David who alleges he was abused while a youth footballer at Rangers

Almost two years ago, David, who is a season ticket holder at Ibrox, spoke to a solicitor about the alleged abuse and was advised to make a claim against Rangers.

Rangers' lawyers said the club offered its "deepest concern", however, it made it clear that any compensation claim would be for the liquidators of the company which had previously owned the club.

David told the BBC: "My issue's always been that they may be a …different legal entity, but they're still the same club. And although they don't have the same maybe liability legally, certainly morally they're still the same club."

A statement from Rangers Football Club said they would "co-operate fully" with all those who had a "genuine interest" in seeking to protect children and "addressing the wrongs" of what had happened in the past.

'Cheap and nasty attacks'

It said that both the Scottish FA and Police Scotland had been informed of the matter.

The statement added: "It is vital matters are dealt with sensitively and with proper care and regard for those involved.

"We will not respond to questions that seek to turn allegations of desperate and deplorable conduct from three or more decades ago into cheap and nasty attacks on Rangers Football Club, and those of its employees who now have to attend to such difficult matters."

I'd like them [Rangers] to realise the impact that it's had and get an apology off them face-to-face. That's my real goal."

David, who says he was abused aged 11

Pat Mair from Scottish charity Talk Now which counsels victims of sexual abuse has worked with adults who suffered in childhood.

She said: "The survivors are looking for acknowledgment, they're looking for communication with the football clubs where they were abused.

"The abuse happened at Rangers Football Club but they are not taking any responsibility and it's as if they're not accountable for it."

David said he wanted "someone from Rangers" to contact him so he could tell them his story.

He went on: "And I'd like them to sit there and listen to me and realise the impact that it's had and get an apology off them face-to-face. That's my real goal."


If you have been affected by this story, you can contact a number of agencies in Scotland including;

  • Police Scotland on 101
  • NSPCC helpline on 0800 023 2642
  • Childline on 0800 11 11
  • Talk Now on 01355 458272

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