andy woodward
The flood of allegations come after former footballer Andy Woodward said a fortnight ago he was a victim of abuse Paul Ellis/AFP/Getty Images

The National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC) has said 83 potential suspects linked to almost 100 clubs have been identified in connection with allegations of historical child sex abuse in football.

Detectives are investigating some 639 potential cases referred to officers from the NSPCC's helpline, with victims aged from as young as seven up to 20 at the time of the alleged abuse.

The allegations are said to span all tiers of football, from amateur teams to premier league clubs, with 98 clubs reference to by victims.

Some 98% of those identified as victims are male, the NPCC added.

On Thursday (8 December), the Met Police became the latest force to open an investigation into potential historic crimes by coaches. It has so far refused to say which London clubs it is investigating.

The flood of allegations come a fortnight after former footballer Andy Woodward broke silence to allege he was abused by a coach as a young player in the 1980s.

Several other former footballers have since come forward also saying they were abused.

Chief Constable Simon Bailey, NPCC lead for child protection, said the allegations received by police forces across the country "are being swiftly acted upon".

He warned officers may take longer to respond due to the huge number of complaints.

"We continue to urge anyone who may have been a victim of child sexual abuse to report it by dialling 101, or contacting the dedicated NSPCC helpline, regardless of how long ago the abuse may have taken place," he said.

"We will listen and treat all reports sensitively and seriously. Anyone with any information regarding child sexual abuse is also urged to come forward.

"When allegations are reported it enables police to assess whether there are current safeguarding risks and ensure that appropriate action is being taken to prevent children being abused today.

"As the number of calls being received across the service is higher than usual, it may take longer than normal for an officer from a local force to make contact to follow up from the initial call. Please be assured that the information provided will be taken seriously and acted upon."

The FA is supporting a 24-hour hotline set up by the NSPCC. It can be reached on 0800 023 2642.