Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Ex-Southampton manager Lawrie McMenemy 'disgusted' at abuse claims

Lawrie McMenemy
Image caption Lawrie McMenemy managed Southampton between 1973 and 1985

Ex-Southampton manager Lawrie McMenemy has said he was "shocked and disgusted" by claims of grooming and sexual abuse by a former employee of the club.

Former players including Dean Radford and Jamie Webb have spoken about incidents they said happened when they were in schoolboy teams.

Mr McMenemy told BBC South Today that if he had known of any abuse, he would have acted.

The club said it has contacted police regards claims of historical abuse.

Mr McMenemy, the club's most successful manager, also had spells as director of football and later as a non-executive director.

He said he had no suspicions such activity was happening at the club, which he managed between 1973 and 1985.

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Media captionFormer Southampton player talks about his abuse

"Certainly if I'd known that was happening in my time - and I don't think it did happen in my time - I would have got it killed straightaway," he said.

"If I thought for one minute that sort of thing was happening, I'd have acted ... certainly I'd have gone straight to the police."

He said he was "staggered" about the allegations against the staff member.

"I'm so sad and disappointed - we all feel for the players ... I don't think this sort of thing could happen now."

In a statement, Southampton FC said: "The club has informed Hampshire Constabulary that we will offer our full support to any investigation they undertake, for as long as it takes, and with our full focus.

"The club works closely and tirelessly with the Premier League to promote the safeguarding of children and young people who are under our care or using our facilities, and their well-being is paramount to all staff."

The National Police Chiefs' Council said 55 amateur and professional clubs had been linked to police investigations in 18 force areas.

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