On Wednesday afternoon, Newcastle United confirmed that Under-23 coach and former Magpie Peter Beardsley had left the club following allegations of bullying and racism made by several academy players.
On the same day, news emerged that the parents of seven academy players demanded a meeting with the club in 2002 to discuss their concerns over Beardsley's treatment of their sons.
The Daily Mail claim to have gained "exclusive access to files from the bullying case brought against Beardsley and then-academy director Kenny Wharton by three players in 2003."
In that case the club sided with the coaches and supported them during a Premier League tribunal, following complaints made by players Ross Gardner and James Beaumont who cited unfair treatment by the pair.
Beardsley and Wharton remained in charge of the academy after the Premier League panel upheld the club's appeal, with the academy players leaving to sign for Nottingham Forest.
However, the Mail claims to have been contacted by former Newcastle academy players and parents that have all levied the similar allegation against Beardsley: 'That the coach robbed young players of their confidence and happiness.'
The files the Mail have obtained from the 2002 case describe the alleged incidents which led to the tribunal, and includes witness statements, one of which details how Beardsley admitted apologising to one player after claims he called him a 'thick Irish c***'.
A meeting between the parents/guardians and club officials (including club secretary Russell Cushing and director of football Gordon Milne) led to the parents being told that Beardsley and Wharton would remain at the academy - this after Beardsley had reportedly claimed that the parents 'would be put in their place' and told that they 'did not run the club'.
One player named in the files is former England youth captain Ross Gardner, whose father reportedly kept a diary of his son's treatment under Beardsley. Then-chairman Freddy Shepherd wrote a letter to the Gardner family asking for their 'patience'.
Mr Gardner noted at the time: 'Why are the club not addressing the issue of intimidation and bullying my son is exposed to?'
Mr Gardner also said that the club 'did not want to know' about the issues raised against Beardsley, and even used a solicitor who asked for a 'wishlist' that would appease Mr Gardner and his son in order to prevent the tribunal going ahead.
In Ross Gardner's statement, he said: "My treatment by the club has tested every boundary in my body to the limit. It has affected me to the point of not wanting to get up and go to training. I have never been so low in my life."
Exclusive: Case files reveal parents of SEVEN academy players at NUFC raised concerns about Peter Beardsley's treatment of sons 17 YEARS AGO. It raises questions - why were bullying claims ignored then & how many players will claim to have suffered since? https://t.co/o1SS6DNGvT— Craig Hope (@CraigHope_DM) March 6, 2019
These allegations against Beardsley and Newcastle United are shocking, not only in their nature, but also due to the length of time that has passed since concerns were raised against the academy coach and the club finally acted in removing him from his post. Though several players did come forward against Beardsley, one can only assume that there are countless other players who may have suffered under his 'tutelage' in Newcastle's academy.