Rape allegations - Villa issue denial

Aston Villa denied that any of its players were involved in the alleged gang rape of a teenager - making it the first Premiership club to make a public statement on the matter.

The Birmingham team was one of six Premiership clubs playing in London last weekend when a 17-year-old girl alleges she was attacked at a top hotel.

A Villa spokesman said: "We can categorically confirm that neither Aston Villa nor any of its players are being investigated in relation to the alleged incident in London at the weekend."

The sixth-former at a Catholic school who made the claims said she consented to sex with one player at the exclusive Grosvenor House Hotel in Park Lane, central London, but was then attacked by a group of up to seven others.

The players alleged to have been involved are from more than one Premiership club.

Newspapers are unable to print their names for legal reasons but rumours about their identities have flooded the Internet and circulated among fans.

Lawyers for some of the footballers have threatened legal action if their names are published.

There are fears that chants identifying the players could be used on the terraces at games this weekend.

Television and radio broadcasters could inadvertently open themselves up to legal problems if the words are picked up on their microphones.

The girl has given a statement to police and may now be shown pictures of the footballers to see if she can identify them. They may have to give DNA samples and police are also expected to talk to their managers, one of whom is a household name and who is understood to have read the riot act to his players.

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