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FA open investigation into circumstances around Maddy Cusack death and Jonathan Morgan complaint

The Football Association has opened a formal investigation into the circumstances surrounding death of Maddy Cusack and her family’s complaint about Jonathan Morgan, the manager of Sheffield United’s women’s team.

Cusack, the team’s longest-serving player, was found at her parents’ house in Derbyshire on September 20 last year. Her family say her working relationship with Morgan caused her mental health to suffer and that was a contributory factor in the 27-year-old taking her own life.

Morgan has robustly denied any wrongdoing and maintained from the start that he had a normal manager-player relationship with Cusack and had never done anything to make her feel he disliked her.

He was exonerated by an external inquiry, commissioned by the club, that was carried out by a former superintendent from Northumbria police, Dennis Shotton, on behalf of Safecall, a Sunderland-based company dealing with whistleblowing matters.

Shotton’s inquiry concluded there was no evidence of wrongdoing. However, Stephen Bettis, United’s chief executive, acknowledged in a letter to Cusack’s family that Morgan had “divided opinion” among the people who were interviewed as part of the process. Some found him supportive and caring. Others saw him as “isolating, quite authoritative and intimidating.”

Cusack, a former England under-19 international, had previously played for Morgan at Leicester. She was in her sixth season at Bramall Lane, having also played for Birmingham City and Aston Villa, and doubled up as a marketing executive for the club.

(Ashley Allen – The FA/The FA via Getty Images)

Having written a seven-page complaint stretching to more than 3,350 words, Cusack’s parents, David and Deborah, have rejected Shotton’s conclusion – and were dismayed to find out from Bettis that they will not be allowed to see the report.

Since then, the FA’s senior integrity investigations manager, David Matthews, has been collating evidence and speaking to potential witnesses to ascertain whether the governing body needed to hold an inquiry of its own.

That process has taken several weeks, including being given access to Shotton’s report, and has now led to the FA deciding the matter warrants an official investigation.

Although the FA has not clarified the scope of the investigation, it has been in regular contact with Cusack’s family and the evidence-gathering process was a direct result of their initial complaint, written by David, a solicitor

The next stage will involve, it is understood, widening the inquiry to speak to a number of former players and other people with links to Leicester City and Burnley, Morgan’s former clubs.

Morgan, who took the Sheffield job last February, returned to the dugout two weekends ago, having not been involved while the Shotton inquiry was underway. He is due to take charge of United’s game in the Women’s Championship against Southampton on Sunday.

The club and Morgan’s representative, Jo Tongue, have been asked for comment.

(Top photo: George Wood/Getty Images)

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