Arsenal have suspended two youth coaches and are investigating accusations of bullying, reports the Islington Gazette. Gunners’ u23 manager Steve Gatting and his assistant Carl Laraman have been given a leave of absence while the club conducts their own enquiry into the claims.
The two coaches were a notable omission as Arsenal u23s suffered defeat to FC Porto in the Premier League International Cup final on Tuesday. Kwame Ampadu, Arsenal’s u18 boss, take caretaker charge.
A Gazette source revealed: “They are under investigation for complaints of bullying. That’s why Kwame did the U23 final. I’m surprised more people didn’t pick on the fact he did the final instead of Gatting and Laraman.”
An Arsenal spokesperson released a brief statement confirming the rumour, which read: “We have suspended two coaches and launched an investigation following complaints from some players. These are private matters and we will not discuss any further detail.”
Gatting played for Arsenal between 1977-1981, making 76 appearances in all competitions, and re-joined the club in a coaching capacity in 2007. The 58-year-old has played for Brighton & Hove Albion and Charlton Athletic.
Laraman joined Arsenal in 2010 and previously coached the Arsenal youngsters between the ages of 9 and 13 at Hale End academy. The 56-year-old has also coached the u18s and is now the assistant to Gatting for the u23s
Former midfielder Marcus McGuane spoke out on Twitter as the story broke initially featuring his name. He’s insisted he’s not involved in the investigation and has no complaint to make about the coaches.
“In relation to an article published by Islington Gazette – I have not been involved in any investigation nor made any complaint about the coaches concerned,” he said on social media. “The article is inaccurate and misleading. My name has been removed from the article.”
McGuane left Arsenal for Barcelona in January, ending 12 years of association, but has denied any suggestion he had an issue with the coaches before his departure.
According to reports on Twitter, Gatting and Laraman were relieved of their duties ‘over a week ago’ and the internal investigation has been going on for nearly two weeks. It’s unknown if the pair have a chance of returning.
There has been a real overhaul of coaches and backroom staff in the last 12 months and Arsenal are believed to have parted company with a number of staff members following a meeting on Friday – Garry Peyton, Neil Banfield, Boro Primorac.
Arsenal’s u23s won the Premier League Division One title this season with 42 points from 22 games. The Young Gunners finished two points clear of second-placed Liverpool and scored more goals than any other side in the table (48).
Chief executive Ivan Gazidis is overseeing mass change at Arsenal and the entire club could have a different look next season given the turnover in players and staff.
It’s bad timing for Arsenal to be embroiled in scandal as long-serving manager Arsene Wenger makes his farewell this weekend.
The Gunners travel to the John Smith’s Stadium face Huddersfield Town in their final game of the season on Sunday.