A judge has given the go ahead for sex abuse survivors to launch a multi-million pound lawsuit against Celtic FC.
Lord Arthurson granted permission on Tuesday for 22 former Celtic Boys Club players to launch a compensation claim against the Parkhead club.
The judge announced the ruling after being addressed on Monday by advocate Ian Mackay QC.
He represents men who were abused while playing for the youth side and believe that they are entitled to compensation.
Mr Mackay told Lord Arthurson that the two entities were “intimately connected” to each other – a claim denied by Celtic FC, who say the two organisations were separate from each other.
On Tuesday, Lord Arthurson said that the legal criteria for allowing the case to proceed had been met.
He said: “Having considered parties’ position on the supposed permission application, I am satisfied that the relevant criteria in granting this application has been established and I can exercise my discretion to grant the application.
“The averments which the pursuers offer to prove set out a background in respect that each was a player with Celtic BC when they were subject to sexual assaults and when they were under the supervision and control of these individuals.”
Lord Arthurson spoke during a virtual hearing of the Court of Session in an action in which 22 former players have came forward seeking compensation for being sexually assaulted whilst playing for Celtic Boys Club.
They have brought “group proceedings” against Celtic FC PLC – the procedure is similar to US class action-style litigations.
On Monday, Mr Mackay told Lord Arthurson that lawyers for the men have uncovered evidence which shows apparent close links between Celtic Boys Club and Celtic FC.
He said the evidence showed that the two entities were “intimately connected” and that his clients should be allowed to sue Celtic.
Mr Mackay said: “Celtic Boys Club was intimately connected to Celtic Football Club – it was branded as being closely connected to Celtic Football Club.
“Players played in Celtic strips and wore blazers which were virtually identical to those worn by Celtic FC players.
“Football kit, holdalls and training gear were provided by Celtic Football Club.
“The pursuers’ understanding was that they were playing for the boys club of Celtic Football Club.
“Celtic Boys Club trained at Barrowfield, the training ground of Celtic Football Club and Celtic Park as well as elsewhere.
“Celtic Football Club exercised control over who played for Celtic Boys Club because scouts recruited players who they considered were good enough to play for Celtic Football Club and diverted them to Celtic Football Club.
“The Boys Club was a nursery for senior team players. Celtic Boys Club was in effect what could be now known as the academy of Celtic Football Club.
“Articles about Celtic Boys Club appeared regularly in the Celtic View, the club’s newspaper – and the club was referred to as being part of the Celtic family.
“Celtic is vicariously liable for assaults.”
Roddy Dunlop QC, for Celtic FC, told Lord Arthurson that the action should not be allowed to proceed.
He said his clients believed they wouldn’t get a “fair trial” because documents which would be key to their case that they boys club and Celtic FC were different entities were missing.
On Tuesday, Lord Arthurson said the issues being faced by Celtic were not so great as to force the action to stop.
Lord Arthurson also passed a court order prohibiting the identification of the people who have brought the legal action.
He added: “The common issue in the proceedings is the question of the vicarious liability of the defenders for the actions of these individuals.
“The court accordingly grants the permission application.”