Glasgow & West Scotland

Former Celtic Boys Club manager Frank Cairney guilty of abuse

Frank Cairney Image copyright Press Team
Image caption Frank Cairney is the third former Celtic Boys Club coach to be convicted

A former manager of Celtic Boys Club has been found guilty of nine charges of sexually abusing young footballers.

Frank Cairney, 83, was placed on the sex offenders register and was granted bail until he is sentenced next month.

Sheriff Daniel Kelly QC praised the "courage" of Cairney's victims, who he said had brought forward these matters to public scrutiny.

The jury of eight women and seven men took two hours to reach their verdicts at Hamilton Sheriff Court.

Following the verdict, a man who has accused Cairney of abusing him in the early 1970s, said justice had finally caught up with the "evil paedophile".

Image caption Both Jim Torbett (left) and Frank Cairney (right) have been convicted of abusing children at Celtic Boys' Club

He said Cairney had used his standing at Celtic FC to gain access to innocent young boys and abuse them in the most horrible way.

"Some of this abuse was carried out within the Celtic Park dressing room as well as in his car," he said.

'Basic decency'

The man, who wishes to remain anonymous, added: "What me and the other victims of abuse at Celtic now want to see is the senior club take responsibility for the action of these abusers who operated with complete freedom within Celtic Park.

"The stance Celtic have taken, saying they do not have any legal responsibility, is revolting and insulting.

"Celtic FC called the shots with the boys club. It's time the club acted with some basic decency over our legal claims."

Analysis by BBC investigations correspondent Mark Daly

Frank Cairney is the third former Celtic Boys Club coach to be convicted of child sex abuse in the past six weeks.

Last month, Boys Club founder Jim Torbett was jailed for six years, while another coach, teacher Gerald King, was convicted earlier this month of abusing boys at a school.

The reputation of the Boys Club, which produced so many great Celtic players, lies in ruins.

Once more, the Boys Club's close links to Celtic FC was a feature in Cairney's trial.

One player told the court he was abused inside Celtic Park by Cairney. Another of his victims told how his team even trained in the stadium on occasion in the early 1970s.

After the conviction of Torbett, Celtic expressed deep regret for the victims, but stressed the Boys Club was a separate entity. This rings hollow to the victims.

After the verdict, one of Cairney's victims, now 59, told me: "We were part of Celtic, to say the Boys Club wasn't is disingenuous. We even swept the terraces at Parkhead.

"Celtic need to hold their hands up and admit that now."

Celtic have yet to comment.

Cairney was acquitted in 1998 on similar charges. Twenty years later, a different result. Sentence was deferred till the new year, and Cairney will spend the festive period contemplating a lengthy prison sentence.

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