Eight men said they were abused by paedophile Barry Bennell while he was a Manchester City scout.
Eight men who sued Manchester City after saying they were abused by paedophile Barry Bennell more than 30 years ago have lost a High Court fight.
The men said he abused them when they played for teams he coached in north-west England between 1979 and 1985.
Mr Justice Johnson ruled that it had not been shown that City was “legally responsible for Bennell’s acts of abuse”.
The lawyer who represented the men said they were “shocked and dismayed”.
The men, now in their 40s and 50s, claimed Bennell was a scout for City when they were abused and argued the relationship between the paedophile and the Premier League club was “one of employment or one akin to employment”.
City denied the claims and told the court the 68-year-old was a local scout in the mid-1970s but not when the men were abused.
Bennell, who is in prison after being convicted of numerous sexual offences against children in recent years, denied being linked to City in the 1980s when he gave evidence during the High Court trial.
He told the judge he had been a “local scout” for City between 1975 and 1979, but not between 1979 and 1985.
Bennell said the “reality” was that he was never a City coach and said after 1978-1979, junior teams he coached had “no connection at all” with the club.
But he told the court he had “always used and exploited” his previous connections with City for his “own benefit”.
Mr Justice Johnson, who made the ruling at the High Court on Monday, said the connection between the abuse and Bennell’s relationship with City was “insufficient to give rise to vicarious liability”.
“The relationship gave Bennell the opportunity to commit the abuse, but MCFC had not entrusted the welfare of the claimants to Bennell,” he said.
“It follows that it has not been shown that MCFC is legally responsible for Bennell’s acts of abuse.”
Solicitor David McClenaghan, who represented the men, said there would be an appeal.
“Despite the judge accepting that there was a connection between Bennell and Man City and that he was scouting for them, coaching their feeder teams and helping to organise trial games for them, the club has escaped liability on a technicality,” he said.
“My clients are incredibly disappointed by the behaviour of Manchester City Football Club.”