Celtic are prepared to settle legal claims of abuse at Celtic Boys' club, according to a law firm representing more than 20 former players.

Several former coaches and officials at the youth club have been sentenced for child sex abuse in recent years, but the Premiership side had maintained it was a "separate entity". 

Lawyers acting for the former players argue the boys club and Celtic were "intimately connected" and the senior club was "vicariously liable" for assaults carried out in the youth set up.

Lawyers for more than 20 former players have been told by the club that it intends to enter settlement negotiations.

A statement said: "Thompsons Solicitors are pleased to confirm that Celtic PLC has indicated their intention to enter settlement negotiations within the context of the Celtic group proceedings litigation.

"This litigation relates to cases of historical abuse at Celtic Boys Club by convicted paedophiles James Torbett and Frank Cairney.

“Celtic PLC have not formally admitted liability or made any other formal concessions but their desire to now enter negotiations to explore the possibility of a settlement of this action has been made clear.

"This means that parties will ask the court to adjourn the forthcoming proof to allow work to be undertaken to value individual cases.

“We appreciate that there has been significant public interest in this action and hope that this comment clarifies the current situation.”

In March 2022 a judge in the US gave permission for plaintiffs to bring a class action lawsuit against Celtic FC, with a hearing scheduled for October at the Court of Session before Lord Arthurson.

It's now reported that the club is willing to enter into settlement negotiations, without admitting to liability.

In 1996 former Celtic youth player Alan Brazil, who went on to play for Manchester United and the Scottish national team, alleged he had been abused by Celtic Boys' Club manager Jim Torbett at the age of 13.

Two years later Torbett was found guilty of shameless and indecent conduct with three juvenile players between October 1967 and March 1974 and sentenced to 30 months in prison.

Further allegations were made against the Boys' Club founder and former manager and in 2018 he was found guilty of five counts of sexually abusing children and sentenced to six years in prison by the Glasgow High Court.

Two of the victims had played for his under-14 football team and the youngest was five years old when the abuse occured.

The Herald: Jim TorbettJim Torbett

Sentencing, Lord Beckett told Torbett: "You groomed boys and contrived situations when you could abuse them

"Yours is some of the most corrupting behaviour I have ever heard of in these courts.

"Your depraved conduct towards innocent children has blighted their lives."

In December 2018 Gerald King, a former chairman of Celtic Boys Club, was convicted of five charges of using lewd and libidinous practises towards five victims between August 1984 and April 1989, and found guilty of taking indecent pictures of children in February 1987.

In April of this year the now 75-year-old was found guilty of the historic sexual abuse of a boy in the Inverness area 1967 and 1968, for which he was sentenced to a further three years in prison.

Read More: Celtic Boys Club founder Jim Torbett guilty of abusing teenage boy

Frank Cairney, who had previously been acquitted of child sex abuse charges due to a lack of evidence, was a former coach and manager at Celtic Boys' Club and was jailed for four years in 2019 for nine charges of sexually abusing young footballers.

Another former coach, Jim McCafferty, pleaded guilty to 11 charges of abusing teenagers between 1972 and 1996 at Celtic Boys' Club, the Celtic youth team and youth football teams he ran in North Lanarkshire.

He was sentenced to six years and nine months.

In 2021 the SFA released the Independent Review of Sexual Abuse in Scottish Football which named Celtic Boys Club, Celtic, Falkirk, Forres Mechanics, Hamilton, Hibernian, Hutchison Vale, Motherwell, Rangers and Partick Thistle as clubs where abuse had taken place.

Celtic said at the time: "The abuse of young people is an abhorrent crime, which has unfortunately affected many organisations within Scottish football, indeed Scottish society as a whole.
"The club has publicly expressed its sincere sympathy, regret and sorrow to all those affected across Scottish football including at Celtic Football Club and Celtic Boys’ Club, something which the Independent Review acknowledged and welcomed. Today we reiterate this apology. 
"Since the publication of the Interim Report, Celtic has been working with the Scottish FA and Scottish football as a whole to review those recommendations and to strive to make Scottish football a safer place for our young people. The club remains fully committed to continuing to prioritise welfare and safeguarding protections for our young people, including working with the Scottish FA in respect of the Recommendations in this Report."

Celtic FC have been contacted for comment.