Eight men who sued Manchester City after complaining of being abused by paedophile Barry Bennell more than 30 years ago have lost a High Court fight.

the men, now in their 40s and 50s, said bennell, now 68, abused them when they were playing schoolboy football for teams he coached in north-west england between 1979 and 1985.

"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.

They claimed that Bennell, who became a coach at Crewe Alexandra in 1985, was a scout for City during that time and argued the relationship between Bennell and City was "one of employment or one akin to employment".

He told the judge he had been a "local scout" for City between 1975 and 1979, but not between 1979 and 1985.

"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.

But he told the judge that he had "always used and exploited" his previous connections with City for his “ own benefit ”.

mr justice johnson said each claimant had proved that bennell abused him.

"the relationship gave bennell the opportunity to commit the abuse, but mcfc had not entrusted the welfare of the claimants to bennell.

"my clients are both shocked and dismayed at the high court decision handed down today which declined to award them substantial damages in their claims against manchester city football club for abuse suffered at the hands of barry bennell," he said.

They claimed the club, referred to as MCFC, was vicariously liable for the harm they suffered, which City bosses denied.

the eight claimed damages for psychiatric injuries and six of them also claimed damages for loss of potential football earnings.

he added : "each claim is therefore dismissed."

Bennell, who gave evidence at the trial via video link from HMP Littlehey, near Huntingdon Cambridgeshire, where he is being held, said the "reality" was that he “ was never ” a City coach and, “ after 1978 ”, junior teams he coached had “ no connection at all ” with City.

Bennell, who is in jail after being convicted of a string of child sex offences in recent years, also denies being linked to Manchester City during the 1980s.

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