Well Done To Southampton FC For Keeping Ted Bates Statue
Sunday, 29th May 2022 11:57
Saints recently announced that they were not going to tear down the Ted Bates statue at St Mary's despite calls for them to do so from some quarters due to he being a club director at the time Bob Higgins was at the club.
Ted Bates is a very easy target for those that like to show righteous indignation at every turn.
Bob Higgins was a vile man, there is no doubt that he committed the awful crimes and he fully deserved the 24 year sentence he received.
But that doesn't mean that Ted Bates good name and his family should have to suffer.
The issue seems to be when the board first became aware of the issues with Higgins and how long they took to deal with it, certainly there were unsubstantiated accusations being made in the mid 1980's, the board did nothing but then again they had little evidence produce to back it up and did nothing.
When it finally came to light an independent enquiry revealed a former headteacher told police Bates was "enraged" at being warned about Higgins and would take legal action over "what he called malicious gossip".
But the report also acknowledged "It has not been possible to verify (the headteacher’s) account of his conversation with Ted Bates."
That sounds a little damning on Bates, but it is alleged this conversation was back in 1974, early in Higgins time at the club and we have to take into account that this was one man, at that time there was no other evidence, from that perspective, being enraged would have been a natural reaction on what he would have seen back than as slander not only on the club but Higgins himself.
A decade or so later evidence did emerge when former youth players came forward and the club sacked Higgins and an investigation was launched by the authorities, however Higgins was found not guilty and was free to continue, Saints wanted nothing to do with him but he found employment elsewhere.
He escaped because at that time few would come forward to testify, no one wanted to admit to being abused, that was the problem the Saints board had during the 1980's, there was a lot of whispering, but until Dean Radford bravely came forward, no one was willing to stand up and point the finger, these were different times, they probably did so feeling that they would be tainted.
Back then few Saints supporters realised there was a problem until the late 1980's (Apologies here if I am a year or two out) but the feeling was the club acted swiftly when the story finally broke.
There are plenty of victims here, but only one guilty person and that is Bob Higgins.
So my opinion is the Ted Bates statue should stay, during the 1980's his role as director was winding down, in 1986 he would have been 68 and well past retirement age at the time, his day to day involvement with the playing side of things had long ceased, indeed he would really have only been involved in board meetings etc and not with the day to day side of things, I would suggest he would not have been aware of too much of what happened in the youth side of things back then.
I have every sympathy with every victim of Bob Higgins and also those who were perhaps not victims but were terrified that they might well become such, there are many who could perhaps have the finger pointed at them over the years as having surely known but having done nothing, this would include ex managers, ex players and perhaps even journalists, but they are not being vilified, so why should Ted Bates be.
Certainly in the years after the scandal came to light back in the late 1980's no one has blamed Ted Bates or made any suggestion he had done nothing when he became aware of the situation, that is until now when suddenly there is a movement to tear down anything or anyone connected with the dirty deeds of the past.
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The club had this to say in a statement.
"We can confirm that we will not be removing the statue of Ted Bates.
"There are a number of different reasons for this decision, which has been considered very carefully over quite a considerable period of time.
"Firstly, we have not been able to verify the statement made by a teacher in relation to Ted Bates and so evidentially cannot be certain of the status or reliability of that statement.
"This is not to say that we do not believe the statement or question it.
"However, it would not be responsible for us to base a decision that would have a very significant impact for a lot of people on a single piece of evidence that was collected a long time after the relevant conversation may have taken place and that we have not been able to verify.
"Additionally, we have worked with a range of different groups, including survivors to build a view of how the statue and Ted Bates is viewed by that group.
"To date, there is no majority view that the club should remove the statue of Ted Bates. This issue was brought to us for consideration and we have engaged widely on it since then.
"We are not inclined to make gestures of this nature and feel that in this case the statue should stand to remind everyone of the journey that happened over the course of Ted Bates’ time at Southampton.
"This includes his loyalty and achievements as a player and manager as well as the fact that he was a member of the board during the period when systemic sexual abuse took place at the club should be remembered.
"It is very important to highlight that Ted Bates was not involved in any abuse directly.
"If nothing else, this should be used to highlight the important ongoing role that our management team have in keeping people safe today.
"What we do not want to do is take action that is unpopular with the vast majority of relevant stakeholders and that significantly risks the perception and reaction of others to the group of men who were abused when they were young players at Southampton.
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