A football coaching company run by former Sunderland AFC star Martin Scott has been given the boot from a school.
Kepier School in Houghton terminated its contract with its football academy coaching provider Improtech Soccer after it said it had received complaints from parents.
It is understood the allegations centre around comments made to pupils.
The Echo understands all the allegations were refuted by Improtech and Durham Football Association said it had referred the matter to the FA’s Safeguarding Unit.
School vice principal Rob Giles informed parents that the contract with Improtech had been terminated.
A letter sent to parents from Mr Giles on October 4 confirmed the decision. It stated : “Due to information that has been presented to myself, the decision has been taken to terminate the service level agreement with Improtech Soccer.”
Kepier opened the Kepier Elite Football Academy (KEFA) in September 2012 - the first of its kind in the country. It attracts pupils from across the North East.
Talented young footballers receive specialised coaching alongside a structured timetable of lessons; with the aim of securing a pathway into further education or football career.
Improtech had secured the contract to run the academy at the school with a view to “proving the perfect preparation for aspiring professional footballers”.
It also runs programmes at Sunderland College and English Martyrs in Hartlepool.
Its website says it aims to “develop the Elite Academy Player into professional footballers who not only have good moral values but also a discipline, drive and a professional attitude to succeed”.
A spokesman for Improtech said: “Improtech can confirm it is no longer acting as a supplier to Kepier Academy.
“The company is proud of its successful track record at Kepier since it was introduced to the school in 2011, and Improtech and Kepier pioneered academy football in education in England.
“Along the way we have successfully coached 100s of talented young players, several of whom have gone on to earn professional contracts at the three big North East clubs and further afield.
“We have taken the school to national footballing finals and formed productive and lasting relationships with dozens of players and their parents and enjoyed a harmonious relationship with the school.
“We wish continued success for all the players at the school and the school itself in the future.”
The letter from Kepier to parents added that the school remained “committed” to the Kepier Elite Football Academy and coaching had been secured in the short term from Sunderland’s Foundation of Light - with a view to recruiting permanent coaching staff at the “earliest opportunity”.
Kepier acting principal Rob Giles added: “We remain committed to the Kepier Elite Football Academy and we are very proud of the training and education programme in place. Children are at the very heart of everything we do and their welfare and education is paramount.
“The decision has been taken to terminate the service level agreement with Improtech Soccer.”
A spokesman for Durham County Football Association said: “We are aware of the allegation which has been reported to The FA Safeguarding Unit.”
Vikkie Morton, Assistant Principal (Customer and Student Experience) at Sunderland College said: “We are aware of the situation at Kepier and have consulted with the relevant external agencies. We are comfortable that we have the appropriate measures in place to ensure the safety of our students.”
A spokesman for English Martrys School said: “The safeguarding of all of our students is our paramount concern. I have had discussions with representatives from Kepier Academy and Improtech in order to consider any implications for our students at English Martyrs.
“Our Improtech coach has been unwavering in his dedication and respect for each of our students in the academy.
“He has built fantastic, purposeful and respectful relationships with our students and their parents.
“We will be meeting with parents of all students in the football academy to reassure them that our vision of providing first class football coaching, alongside
a quality academic curriculum, will continue in the existing atmosphere and environment of respect and positive regard.”