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Friday, March 26, 1999 Published at 22:23 GMT


Chelsea stands by Rix

Graham Rix (right) escorted into court where he pleaded guilty

Chelsea Football Club have says it will stand by coach Graham Rix, jailed on Friday for having sex with an underage girl.

BBC Sports News Correspondent Gordon Farquher reports for BBC Radio 5 Live
"His job will be kept open and he will return to the position when he is released from prison. That is the wish of directors and staff of Chelsea. It is also the wish of [manager] Giannluca Viali and all the players of Chelsea," said Dennis Roach, Rix's agent.

Chelsea's chief executive, Colin Hutchinson, said that although the club disapproved of Rix's behaviour, his job would be kept open for him.

[ image: Dennis Roach:
Dennis Roach: "Job will be kept open"
"Chelsea do not condone what Graham Rix did, but he is paying a very, very heavy price for one mistake and he will serve the sentence and the stigma will stay with him for the rest of his life," he said.

The Chelsea coach and former England star was been sentenced to a total of 12 months imprisonment for having unlawful sex with a 15-year-old girl and indecently assaulting her.

Rix, who was capped for England 17 times and is regarded as one of the country's top coaches, was sentenced at London's Knightsbridge Crown Court.

At an earlier hearing, Rix, a 41-year-old father of four, pleaded guilty to one count of unlawful sex and a second charge of indecent assault.

Rix is believed to have met the girl and had sex with her at a west London hotel on the eve of Chelsea's Premiership match with Manchester United in February 1998.

'No alternative' to jail

Sentencing him, the judge told Rix that in the circumstances of the case, there was "no realistic alternative" to an immediate sentence of imprisonment.

However, he also said that Rix would be released after serving half of his sentence and then remain subject to the terms of licence. Rix will also have to remain on the sex offenders' register for the next 10 years.

The judge made it clear that the circumstances of the case made it very difficult to impose a fair sentence.

He acknowledged Rix to be "a mature man of previous impeccable character and soundness of reputation, with an impressive career in his field of professional expertise, held in high regard by his colleagues and the public alike".

Although the young girl had not been abducted or been subjected to violence, her welfare had to be protected.

'A virgin flattered by celebrity'

The judge told the court: "These offences took place when she was only weeks short of her 16th birthday, the age of consent, yet at the time of the offences she was a virgin, plainly a girl who was undoubtedly like any other fascinated and flattered by the attentions of a man who was to her knowledge a celebrity, attended by the glamour of fame and success."

Although the judge accepted the girl made no strong protests to Rix's advances, he deemed his behabiour irresponsible. "There was in my view a significant amount of irresponsibility in your behaviour, illustrating a determination to have sex irrespective of her feelings," he said.

The judge pointed out that Rix had refused to use a condom despite the girl's requests and his knowledge that she was a virgin at the time.

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