Chelsea have pledged to fully investigate the latest “extremely serious” allegations that the club’s former youth coach Gwyn Williams racially abused players.
Grant Lunn and Gary Baker, who featured as part of Chelsea’s youth setup in the 1980s, told the Guardian they heard Williams “repeatedly” and “regularly” use racist terms towards some of their black team-mates.
In January, a Guardian report alleged Williams and fellow ex-Chelsea coach Graham Rix racially abused and bullied players during their time with the Premier League side in the 1990s – after Lunn and Baker had left the club.
Williams and Rix, neither of whom have any current involvement with Chelsea, deny “all and any allegations of racial or other abuse”.
A Chelsea spokesperson said: “We take allegations of this nature extremely seriously and they will be fully investigated.
“We are absolutely determined to do the right thing to assist the authorities and any investigations they may carry out and to fully support those affected, which would include counselling for any former player that may need it.”
The Guardian’s investigation widened the timeframe of the abuse in question after an unnamed player made allegations against Williams relating to the period between 1979 and 1985.
Baker, who was on Chelsea’s books from 1981 to 1986, told the newspaper it was Williams’s denial of wrongdoing that prompted him to come forward in support of his old colleagues.
“When I read the articles in March I was surprised how it all came flooding back and how it made me feel. It was the outright denial from Williams that made me want to come forward,” he said.
“I have no axe to grind with him personally, as I was never targeted in any way by him, but I was annoyed and angered to read his denial.
“I thought ‘how on earth can he say that?’ as I know he racially abused players, one in particular in my time, regularly. I don’t think that back then, as a kid, I ever thought about it being wrong, and I wasn’t one to speak out anyway.
“Nobody spoke out. It wasn’t like today where there are at least four or five members of the coaching team. Williams was in charge of the entire youth setup and if you were going to make it in football it was on his say-so.”
Lunn added: “As a group of kids, we probably became used to hearing racist terms and insults when we were at the club,” he said. “One week there would be only one or two, another day it may happen 10 times. It was the norm.
“I can remember how it affected some of the lads. One of my team-mates was repeatedly called racist names by Williams and when we were alone together he would confide in me and say how he hated the way he was being treated, the names he was called and the way he was singled out time and again because of his colour.
“Those boys had no support or no way of challenging it. There was nobody else to go to. They had to deal with it and accept it. There was no way anybody else would challenge it on their behalf as their card would have been marked. It was just the way it was. It wasn’t right, and that is clear now. We probably didn’t realise back then how wrong it was.”