CELTIC Football Club have said they have “deep regret” over historical child sex offences committed by Jim Torbett. The 71-year-old, who was involved in setting up Celtic Boys Club, was jailed for six years on Monday after being found guilty of sexually abusing three boys over eight years in the 1980s and 1990s.

The High Court in Glasgow heard his “depraved conduct” blighted the lives of those he targeted, two of whom he met through the boys club.

It was not formally affiliated with Celtic FC and Torbett was not an employee, but some victims had called for an apology from the senior club after Torbett’s conviction.

Celtic said in a statement yesterday: “Following the conviction of Mr James Torbett at Glasgow Sheriff Court (sic), Celtic Football Club wishes to express our deep regret that the incidents took place and sympathy for the victims who suffered abuse.

“We are grateful for the courage of those who have come forward to report abuse and to give evidence after such a long period of time. We have great respect for them and their families as they continue to cope with the effects of the abuse they suffered. Although Celtic Football Club is an entirely separate organisation, we have always taken these allegations extremely seriously because of our historic contacts with Celtic Boys Club.

“All investigations by the police and other inquiries were given our full support. We encouraged any individuals involved to report all information to the police so that matters could be investigated fully. Celtic Football Club continues to encourage any victim of abuse to report these crimes to the police.”

Celtic said a code of conduct and procedures to protect young people were created when the allegations became known in the 1990s.

The statement added: “Celtic Football Club strongly believes children and young people involved in football have the right to protection from all forms of harm and abuse, and is committed to ensuring this and to promoting their wellbeing.”