CELTIC FC has released a statement expressing regret for the actions of paedophile James McCafferty at Celtic Boys Club.

Earlier this month it was announced that victims of former kitman McCafferty have begun legal action against the club.

The Parkhead football club is under mounting pressure, including this week from MSP James Dornan, to pay compensation to victims.

However, a statement released this afternoon by Celtic FC acknowledged the abuse of young members of Celtic Boys Club, but went on to point out that abuse happens in many areas in society.

The statement also pointed out that McCafferty carried out abuse across various organisations - and not only while at Celtic Boys Club.

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It reads: "James McCafferty has plead guilty to offences he committed against young people between 1972 and 1996.

"Celtic Football Club wishes to express its regret and sorrow to those young people.

"McCafferty, who was employed by Celtic Football Club in the mid 1990s, committed these acts many years ago across a number of organisations, and all those who have come forward to report abuse and to give evidence deserve enormous praise for the courage they have shown.

"We offer our sincere sympathy to those young people, their families and all those involved.

"These are very sensitive issues, particularly for those who suffered abuse.

"When the allegations were published in the media in 2016, Celtic Football Club encouraged any individuals involved to report all information to the police so that these matters could be investigated fully and the Club continues to encourage any victim of abuse to report these matters to the police.

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"Celtic Football Club takes all of its responsibilities seriously, stands by its responsibilities and will continue to do so.

"The abuse of children has affected many areas of society, including football clubs, sports clubs, youth organisations, educational institutions and religious bodies across Britain.

"Celtic Football Club strongly believes that children and young people involved in football have the right to protection from all forms of harm and abuse and is committed to ensuring this and to promoting their wellbeing through continued cooperation with our children and young people, parents and carers and the relevant authorities.

"Celtic Football Club was the first club in Scotland to appoint a safeguarding officer, responsible for developing our policies for the protection of young people, and monitoring and reviewing our procedures to ensure they continue to reflect best practice."

Celtic Boys Club was founded in Maryhill in 1966 and renamed St Patrick's Sports Academy in 2018.

Earlier this month it was announced that victims of former Celtic Boys Club kitman Jim McCafferty have begun legal action against the club.

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Thomsons Solicitors said it is handling 10 to15 cases involving the former employee and 50 cases overall of abuse involving football.

McCafferty, 73, admitted abusing 10 teenage boys over a period of 24 years.

His jail sentence was the third to be handed down after Celtic Boys Club founder Jim Torbett, 71, and coach Frank Cairney, 84, were jailed.

The club's ex-chairman Gerald King, 66, was also found guilty of abusing four boys and a girl while he was employed as a primary teacher.

This week Judge Lord Drummond Young refused a request made by lawyers acting for Cairney.

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Cairney, of Viewpark, Lanarkshire, was jailed for four years after being convicted at Hamilton Sheriff Court last February of nine charges of sexually abusing young footballers during the 1980s.

The former coach wanted to be released from prison ahead of his appeal because of concerns of his poor health.

His bid was rejected.

Celtic has faced calls to copy a compensation scheme introduced by Manchester City FC and survivors could receive millions of pounds in compensation.

The English club set up a compensation scheme for sex abuse victims of former youth coach Barry Bennell.

Bennell was convicted last year of 52 offences committed against 12 boys he coached between 1979 and 1991.