Michael ‘Kit’ Carson charged with historical child abuse offences
74-year-old released on conditional bail and is due to appear in court next month
Michael Carson has been charged with historical child abuse offences related to his work with British underage teams. Photograph: Gary Carr/Inpho
Michael “Kit” Carson, who played a significant part in persuading young English-born players with roots in this country to declare for the Republic of Ireland, is the latest youth team coach to have been charged with historical child abuse offences related to his work with British underage teams.
In a statement on Friday, Cambridgeshire police said: “A man has been charged in connection with an investigation into non-recent allegations related to football in Cambridgeshire. He has been charged with 11 counts of indecent assault and one of inciting a child to engage in sexual activity.
“The offences are alleged to have happened between 1978 and 2009 and involve 11 victims, all boys under the age of 16.”
Carson, who is 74, was released on conditional bail until April 17th when he is due to appear at Cambridge Magistrates court. His case follows those of former Crewe Alexandra coach Barry Bennell, who was sentenced to 30 years in prison last month after being found guilty of 43 offences of child abuse, and former Southampton coach Bob Higgins who faces trial on multiple charges of abuse next month.
Carson had previously faced questions over his links to Higgins but was himself arrested in January of last year. The subsequent investigation covered the entirety of his career, one that included prominent spells at Norwich City, Peterborough United and Cambridge United.
During his time at these clubs, Carson played a very active role in persuading players who qualified to declare for Ireland to do so. He is understood to have played a part in the decisions made by Andy Townsend and Sean St Ledger, among others, to play for the Republic.
He is also credited with a role in the similar decision made by many others who featured for underage international sides, players like Lee Power, who now owns Waterford FC, Northern Ireland-born Mark McKeever and, during a later spell with Histon, Londoner Lanre Oyebanjo. There is no suggestion that any of these players were victims of the alleged abuse.
It is not clear whether Carson was paid for his work by the FAI or simply sought to make players of Irish origin aware of their options because of his own family’s links to the country. The FAI had not responded to questions about the issue at the time of writing.
Carson was certainly well regarded for his work at clubs, particularly Peterborough which was celebrated for its youth development work around that time. He had arrived there from Norwich where he had spent a decade prior to 1993 and left again in 2001 when he joined Cambridge.