Celtic have issued what is thought to be their first official apology over historic child abuse.

The club issued a lengthy statement regarding the incidents, which took place both within the club and Celtic Boys' Club.

While continuing to make clear the two sides are separate entities, the club has acknowledged the historic contacts between the two as they express their "great sympathy" for victims of abuse.

It comes ahead of a Channel 4 documentary tonight - which the network's chief correspondent Alex Thomson revealed will look "into paedophile rings in Scottish football generally and connected to Celtic".

Four men associated with Celtic or the boys' club  – including Jim Torbett and Frank Cairney – were convicted of historical sex abuse against children, while a fifth alleged perpetrator is yet to face justice.

READ MORE: Celtic 'very sorry' over historic child abuse as club speaks out over 'abhorrent crime'

Read the Celtic statement in full: 


"In light of recent speculation and to seek to avoid any confusion, the Club wishes to confirm its position regarding the historic abuse that took place at Celtic Football Club and Celtic Boys’ Club.

"Celtic Football Club is appalled by any form of historic abuse and has great sympathy for those who suffered abuse and for their families. The Club is very sorry that these events took place. The abuse of young people is an abhorrent crime. Unfortunately it has affected many areas of society. 

"With regard to the allegations regarding historic abuse at Celtic Boys’ Club (which, so far as we have been made aware, relate to the period prior to 1997), although Celtic Football Club is a separate organisation, we take these extremely seriously because of the historic contacts between the two organisations. 

"Police investigations were given support, so as to seek to ensure that those individuals who abused young people were brought to justice.

"The Club has been at the leading edge in Scottish football of putting welfare and safeguarding protections in place for our young people and continues to work with Scottish football to make it a safe place for young people.

"These are very sensitive matters. There are ongoing legal proceedings which prevent us from discussing any case in any detail. It would not be appropriate for the Club to comment in the media about any individuals or events. 

"In summary, these are historic issues, which the Club is dealing with in a responsible manner and in conjunction with its advisers. 

"The Club reiterates its sincere sympathy, regret and sorrow for those affected. As we have said repeatedly, the Club will stand by its responsibilities, respecting the due process of law."