A LAWYER for three young footballers found to have been indecently assaulted by former boys club manager Frank Cairney, has said Celtic should accept their responsibility for what happened in civil law.

Frank Cairney, 87, preyed on the teenage boys between July 1978 and June 1989 at locations including the shower room at Celtic Park and the club’s Barrowfield training ground.

The convicted sex offender also carried out his abuse on a team trip to Aviemore and in his car on numerous occasions.

In 2019 Cairney was found guilty of abusing eight teenagers after a trial at Hamilton Sheriff Court.

He was jailed for four years after being convicted of nine charges of molesting young boys at football clubs he ran between 1965 and 1986. He was found to have abused the teens while running St Columba's Boys Guild in Viewpark, Lanarkshire, and the under-16s team at Celtic Boys Club.

The club said at the time that while Celtic Football Club was an "entirely separate organisation" to Celtic Boys' Club, they wished to express "deep regret that these incidents took place, as well as our sympathy for the victims who suffered abuse.

Cairney joined Celtic Boys Club in 1971 after being asked to run the youth side by legendary manager Jock Stein.

Further allegations emerged after three further victims contacted police in 2018 and 2019.

Cairney, of Uddingston, South Lanarkshire, was due to stand trial charged with three indecent assaults.

But Glasgow Sheriff Court heard earlier this week that Cairney was unfit to stand trial and an examination of facts hearing was set in its place.

Earlier hearings were told Cairney suffered from “health problems” including dementia.

Now Sheriff Tom Hughes has said that on the balance of probabilities there were no grounds for acquitting Cairney of the latest cases.

The sheriff praised the victims for giving evidence "with great dignity" and said he hoped that they could put what happened behind them and start to move on with the rest of their lives.

“These matters are always taken seriously by the courts and they should have the consolation of knowing that they came to court and were believed. I hope this is some consolation to them," he said.

Prosecuters did not move for sentence after the verdict and asked that the case be “deserted pro loco et tempore” due to the legal provisions of Cairney being unfit for trial.


Frank Cairney (above)

Sheriff Hughes granted the motion Laura Connor of Thompsons Scotland, who represents the three survivors in the latest criminal case who are part of a civil action against Celtic FC As of December more than 20 former Celtic Boys Club players have brought a compensation claim against the Scottish Premiership champions. They believe they are entitled to compensation as a result of being sexually abused whilst playing for the youth side.

Lawyers acting for the former footballers claim that Celtic Boys Club and Celtic FC were “intimately connected” and that management at the senior side didn’t do enough to protect them.

Ms Connor said: “Today a judge has determined that Cairney abused three young football players while a coach at Celtic Boys Club.

"These former players bravely gave evidence about the appalling regime of cruelty and sexual abuse Cairney presided over.

"Cairney, who is already a convicted paedophile, was able to abuse children for decades within the Celtic set up.

"Cairney made clear in his statements to police that Celtic Boys Club and Celtic Under 16s were one and the same. The time has come for those that run Glasgow Celtic Football Club to recognise that the idea the senior club and the boys club were not intimately connected is utterly preposterous. They must end this charade that brings more distress to the victims of the boys club and accept their responsibility in civil law.”

After the 2019 hearing, the club said: "We are grateful for the courage of those who have come forward to report abuse and to give evidence after such a long period of time. We have great respect for them and their families as they continue to cope with the distressing effects of the abuse they suffered.

"The abuse of children is an issue affecting many areas of society, including a large number of football 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 well-being through continued co-operation with our children and young people, parents and carers and the relevant authorities."

In 2019, Cairney was the third ex-Celtic Boys Club coach to be convicted of child abuse and the second to be given a prison sentence.

Cairney had originally dismissed the charges describing the allegations as "ludicrous" and told the jury his time as a coach was full of "golden memories". But he was convicted at Hamilton Sheriff Court following a trial.

Sheriff Daniel Kelly QC who praised the courage of the victims said Cairney was a "wolf in sheep's clothing".


Celtic Boys' Club was founded in 1966 with the permission of the then Celtic FC manager, the late Jock Stein and former chairman Sir Robert Kelly.

It was created as a separate entity from the football club, but it has been closely linked throughout its history and acted as a feeder club, producing a string of Celtic players including Roy Aitken, Paul McStay and Tommy Burns.

Celtic was approached for comment.