STIRLING OBSERVER ARTICLE – Wednesday 6 March
Solely in the interest of presenting the facts without edit, the following is the wording that was sent by e-mail to the Editor for publication. We are aware of the identity of the former coach but out of respect for his wish to remain anonymous, we have removed his name.
The Club and Supporters’ Trust Boards of Stirling Albion wish to deny vigorously the allegations published in last week’s Stirling Observer, surrounding our child protection policies. We would like to stress, in the first instance, that all such policies are stringent, robust and handled in line with guidelines from the relevant authorities including Disclosure Scotland and the Scottish Football Association.
We are proud of our procedures relating to children and young people and our Junior Academy was recently awarded a prestigious Gold Award by the Scottish FA in terms of the way the Academy is operated. Indeed, whilst our child protection policies adhere to current strict guidelines dictated by the authorities, it is our intention to take them above and beyond even this level.
The fact of the matter is that the recent media ‘story’ was created by a journalist. The letter of concern sent to the Scottish FA from an anonymous former coach was submitted by the journalist himself purely to write a newspaper article. Furthermore, in writing this article the journalist in question — who was a volunteer coach for the Junior Academy until leaving four years ago — has been very selective and misleading with the facts.
Sadly, groundless allegations such as these simply smear the good name of the entire Stirling Albion Football Club family.
The Stirling Albion Football Club and Supporters Trust Boards are taking the step of writing this joint article bound by a common value – the promotion of football by Stirling Albion FC to the benefit of our community – and prompted by the article in last week’s Stirling Observer. We make no attempt to address every detail but simply seek to provide a message to the author and an unqualified reassurance to those we serve.
We would also reference previous articles in the “The Herald” and/or “Stirling Observer” dated Feb 26, 2018, Feb 27, 2018, Oct 22, 2018, Feb 27, 2019. The driving force behind these articles is the former coach. In the article of Feb 27, 2019, the “former coach with concerns for child safety” is the self-same journalist, who was a volunteer coach from 2010 until 2015 with Stirling Albion Junior Academy (SAJA). The SAJA, although operating under the Club’s name is a separate and distinct entity – and of which Stirling Albion Football Club is extremely proud. At no time during his tenure did he raise any child protection concern. Indeed, his concerns would appear to begin in February 2018, 3 years after he ceased to have any involvement with the Club.
Ignoring the fact that all child protection issues were handled to the satisfaction of recognised authorities such as Police Scotland, Disclosure Scotland and the Scottish Football Association, the former coach continues with his attempts to smear the Club brand with his own brand of selective editing. For example, in last week’s Stirling Observer article he states that the Club “did not share information about police probes until February of last year”. The full facts being that the Club having reported the incident to the Police and SFA as soon as it came to light, followed up by taking all the appropriate actions, in line with our Child Protection policy, which includes not discussing or sharing any information with anyone. The former coach’s grievance is that the Club did not report the matter to the Supporters’ Trust until the February. Conveniently ignoring the fact that, in addition to applying our Child Protection policy, this was done on Police Scotland instruction.
Despite the above, with the former coach’s involvement, some members of the former Trust Board then sought to conduct an independent investigation into the Club’s Child Wellbeing and Protection procedures, without consultation with the full Trust Board membership and continuing to ignore the fact that those they sought to investigate remained under Police Scotland instruction to remain silent.
Stirling Albion Football Club is entirely satisfied and hugely proud of the fact that, across the entire SAFC family, we have the appropriate policies and procedures in place, implemented, managed and reviewed by the right people and consequently we provide a safe and welcoming environment, second to none, for children of all ages.
In conclusion, the Club and Trust Boards would wish to intimate that this article serves as the final response to the former coach. No further engagement will be undertaken. We would further advise that, if he seeks to continue to pursue his campaign, he should do so by reporting his concerns to whatever he considers to be the relevant authority.
Stirling Albion FC Club Board
Stirling Albion Supporters’ Trust Board