Former Southampton youth coach Robert Higgins has appeared in court after being charged with 65 counts of indecent assault across a 26-year spell.
The Guardian reported that the 64-year-old, known as Bob Higgins, appeared before Southampton Magistrates' Court over the historical child sex abuse that he is accused of carrying out between 1970 and 1996.
In total, Higgins is alleged to have assaulted 23 boys all under the age of 17, with the youngest victim thought to have been just 12 years old.
Mr Higgins spoke to confirm his name, address and date of birth at the hearing on Thursday morning, and indicated his desire to plead not guilty to all charges during the three-minute hearing.
Mr Higgins was granted unconditional bail following proceedings, and will now be expected to appear at Winchester crown court on 16th August.
The ex-Saints coach is accused of indecently assaulting youth players at the club in a variety of locations, including a number of bedrooms, bathrooms and even his own car across the borough of Hampshire and elsewhere.
Mr Higgins, of Litchfield Road, Southampton, is also said to have inappropriately touched his victims in intimate areas during massage sessions.
The clerk of the court explained that Mr Higgins was being pressed over 63 charges of indecent assault between 1970 and 1996, as well as two attempted indecent assault charges against a 16-year-old boy between 1979 and 1983.
Yes, an innocent man covers his face....— Andy Hone (@andyhone) July 20, 2017
Prosecutor Dan O'Neill stated that such a court case should not be held within Southampton Magistrates' Court due to the severity of the charges being brought against Mr Higgins, as well as the age of the victims - chair of the magistrates Alan Foster agreeing before referring the case to Winchester crown court.
Mr Higgins also worked as a youth team manager at Peterborough United for 12 months between May 1995 and April 1996 and is also known to have run his own football school.
The former Fleet Town employee was working alongside adult footballers in Hampshire when the police investigation was launched last year, and was sacked by the club in December after the allegations came to light.