Greater Manchester Police identify 10 football abuse suspects

Earlier, the UK's National Police Chiefs' Council said around 350 people had reported abuse

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Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Donall Farmer

Ten suspects have been identified in a major police investigation into historical child sex offences in youth football.

Greater Manchester Police (GMP) said it was investigating reports from 35 people and its inquiry is growing on a "daily basis".

Earlier, the UK's National Police Chiefs' Council said around 350 people had reported abuse to forces around the country and a dedicated NSPCC helpline.

It came as England manager Gareth Southgate revealed he was once a teammate of an ex-professional who has spoken out about his ordeal.

During a news conference on Thursday, Southgate said child protection in football had improved in recent years.

He said: "I played with one of the players who has recently come forward.

"The reality of that, as they have said, is that they haven't felt able to speak about that until this moment, and that's completely understandable.

"And of course with the benefit of hindsight you always relay then things that you have seen from the past and have an understanding, 'oh, okay, that's why we saw the things we saw'.

"The situation we have now in terms of child protection is completely different, but we mustn't be complacent and think that we have got everything right.

"I think that we are in a much better place than we were 15 to 20 years ago."

Southgate did not identify the player, but he and victim Paul Stewart were briefly teammates at Crystal Palace in the mid-1990s - long after the abuse took place.

Stewart told Sky News he was abused for four years in the 1970s by youth team coach Frank Roper, who is now dead.

He said it ruined his childhood.

The England international, who also played for Liverpool and Tottenham, said Roper threatened to kill his parents and brother if he told anyone about the attacks.

"He is not going to take any more of my life away from me," he said. "I'm not going to dwell on Frank Roper."

Former Crewe Alexandra player Andy Woodward was the first ex-professional to reveal he had been abused, prompting an investigation by the Football Association.

Other former footballers have also waived their anonymity to speak publicly about their experiences of sexual assault in youth football.

More than a quarter of UK police forces are looking into abuse allegations.

Derbyshire Constabulary, Devon and Cornwall, Warwickshire, Avon and Somerset, Essex and Norfolk Police are the latest to confirm they are investigating claims, bringing the current tally to 17.

North Yorkshire, Dorset, Staffordshire, Greater Manchester, North Wales, Cambridgeshire, Hampshire, Cheshire, Northumbria, Scotland Yard and Police Scotland have also launched inquiries.

The NSPCC says its dedicated hotline set up in response to the allegations received 860 calls in its first week.

According to reports, some football clubs have paid "hush money" to victims to keep them quiet.

FA chief executive Martin Glenn said clubs would be investigated "If there has been any evidence of any breach of the rules - including hushing up - regardless of (their) size".

The governing body has commissioned an internal review into what actions it took in the past and the conduct of clubs where abuse may have taken place.

Mr Glenn said child abuse was a "society issue" but "if the FA have made errors, we will own up to them".