Barry Bennell in hospital after being found unconscious

Barry Bennell

Ex-youth football coach Barry Bennell, who is at the centre of a sex abuse scandal, has been taken to hospital after being found unconscious.

The convicted sex offender was found at an address in Knebworth Park, Stevenage on Friday, Thames Valley Police said.

The force said it was called to a "fear for welfare" incident and the 62-year-old was still in hospital.

Bennell was named last week by several former footballers who alleged they were abused as children.

Five police forces are now investigating claims of historical abuse.

Former Crewe player Andy Woodward was the first to speak out about the abuse he said he suffered at the hands of Bennell.

Former youth team players Chris Unsworth, Steve Walters and Jason Dunford later told BBC's Victoria Derbyshire programme they had also been abused by the former Crewe Alexandra coach.

David White and Paul Stewart have also waived their anonymity to speak publicly about suffering abuse as youth players.

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Bennell, who also worked for Manchester City, Stoke and junior teams in north-west England and the Midlands, was given a four-year sentence for raping a British boy on a football tour of Florida in 1994 and a nine-year sentence in 1998 for 23 offences against six boys in England.

He was jailed for a third time in 2015 after admitting abusing a boy at a 1980 football camp in Macclesfield.

Image copyright Getty/PA/Rex
Image caption Paul Stewart, David White, Steve Walters and Andy Woodward (left to right) have gone public with their ordeals

Bennell was said to have moved out of his home in Milton Keynes when the new allegations came to light.

East of England Ambulance Service said it had received a report of an unconscious man in the Knebworth Park area and a crew attended at 22:50 GMT on Friday.

'Never told a soul'

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Media captionVictoria spoke to (L-R) Jason Dunford, Steve Walters, Chris Unsworth and Andy Woodward

In an emotional interview on the BBC's Victoria Derbyshire programme, four ex-footballers appeared together to tell of their torment at the hands of Barry Bennell.

Andy Woodward wept as Steve Walters, Chris Unsworth and Jason Dunford recounted their abuse.

Mr Woodward, 43 - the first player to go public - said it happened while he was aged between 11 and 15 and at Crewe Alexandra's youth team but had been kept "locked away in the back of my head".

Mr Unsworth had been a youth player at Manchester City with Bennell before moving to Crewe with him when he was about 12 in the mid-1980s. He said he had stayed at Bennell's house several times and had "never told a soul" he had been raped.

He said he "thought he had to come forward... and help everybody", after seeing Mr Woodward had spoken out.

'I was raped up to 100 times'

Fifa monitoring situation

Greater Manchester Police has launched an investigation into historical sexual abuse in the youth football system in the area. The force said it had received more than 10 calls connected to a number of clubs.

The Hampshire, Cheshire, Northumbria and Metropolitan police forces have all also opened investigations.

A dedicated NSPCC hotline - 0800 023 2642 - was set up after the abuse claims came to light.

The Football Association has confirmed it is investigating claims of sexual abuse in the sport. The FA said its internal review would look at what officials and clubs knew and when.

Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) chief executive Gordon Taylor says more than 20 former footballers have come forward regarding allegations of sexual abuse.

Taylor said at least "six or seven clubs" including Crewe, Manchester City, Blackpool, Leeds, Stoke and Newcastle were connected with "particular individuals".

Crewe Alexandra have begun their own independent review into the claims,

Blackpool released a statement saying the club was "yet to receive any information from the PFA or relevant authorities in relation to the ongoing investigations of historical abuse".

Leeds also said it had not been made aware of any allegations, but would "take any such complaints seriously and will cooperate fully with the PFA and the FA with any investigations".

Football's world governing body Fifa said in a statement: "We are aware of the allegations. Fifa considers the protection of children and young people as fundamental in football and we will monitor the situation closely."

Meanwhile, Conservative MP Damian Collins, the culture, media and sport committee chairman, told the BBC the FA review needed to establish if there was a cultural problem in the sport.

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