Gwyn Williams: Ex-Chelsea youth team coach says alleged racially offensive terms had 'no malicious intention'

By Alistair MagowanBBC Sport
Gwyn Williams (left) and Graham Rix (right)
Gwyn Williams (left) and Graham Rix (right) are both involved in a High Court claim made against Chelsea set for next March

Former Chelsea youth team coach Gwyn Williams has said alleged racially offensive terms aimed at players in the 1990s had "no intention to cause harm".

Four former youth team players are taking the Premier League club to the High Court next year seeking damages and losses caused by sexual abuse, emotional abuse and assaults by Williams and former coach and player Graham Rix.

Williams, also Chelsea's former academy director, has previously denied "any and all allegations of abuse" and said he "did not act in a racist way towards any youth or other player" at Chelsea.

Rix has denied he is "bullying, aggressive or racist".

Representing insurers for Chelsea during a pre-trial hearing, Michael Kent QC said Williams had used "language referring to a player's colour but had no recollection of [specific] words" referred to in the hearing.

He also said Williams, who left Chelsea in 2006, would "never use these words today" and said there was "no malicious intention behind them" and that he had "no intention to cause harm".

Lawyers for Chelsea's insurers deny the allegations made against the club.

Kent added: "This isn't one or two alternative scenarios, this is a case of a court having to evaluate accounts 25 years after the event and seeking to reach a threshold to allow the court to say this was intentional infliction of injury."

But representing the four claimants, James Counsell QC said the denial was a "reversal" in the club's stance since it apologised for the claims made against Williams and Rix in a 2019 Barnardo's investigation.

Presiding over the pre-trial hearing, Mrs Justice Stacey said the allegations made for "extremely shocking reading, if true".

The case is set to be heard at the High Court for 15 days in March 2022.

The four players say Chelsea is "vicariously liable for the assaults committed by Williams and Rix" when the players were between 14 and 18 years of age.

They also claim that the "assaults, aggravated by the racist language and behaviour, also constituted breaches, on the part of these two coaches, of their duty of care to boys in their charge, for which Chelsea was responsible."

They also say Chelsea was "in breach of its duty directly for failing to take steps to prevent the culture of racist abuse which existed at Chelsea at that time".

Lawyers representing the players say they have "suffered serious psychiatric injuries and other psychological symptoms which have affected them throughout their adult lives as a result of the constant humiliation and offensive behaviour to which they were subjected over a lengthy part of their formative years."

In 2019, Chelsea apologised to "all players who had experienced this deeply shocking behaviour", following a Barnardo's report which found that Williams was "an instigator" of racial abuse and Rix could be "aggressive and bullying" but not "racially abusive".

But in advance of the High Court case, lawyers representing the club's insurers, Keoghs, submitted a 'non-admission' plea, meaning it was up to the claimants to prove the case.

Counsell said the club's representatives are now denying the allegations based on subsequent witness statements and summaries.

Counsell said: "From a public position of regret from the Barnardo's report and then non-admission in pleading and then in witness evidence to outright denial, the defendant [Chelsea] has entirely reversed its decision.

"It's quite clear that the defendant has changed its position since getting witness statements from Williams and Rix.

"It's also not clear from statements which of the allegations are being denied or accepted."

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