The statue of former Southampton player, manager, director and president Ted Bates could be removed, according to reports.

Today The Athletic has reported the statue of him outside St Mary's could be removed because of alleged evidence he ignored warnings about paedophile coach Bob Higgins.

Bates was named in the Football Association’s independent report, into historical child abuse in football after evidence from a former headteacher who had raised concerns to Southampton about Higgins’ behaviour.

The ex-Saints player died in 2003 at the age of 85 and his statue cost around £112,000.

Half was funded by supporters via the Ted Bates Trust and the other half came from the club itself.

Daily Echo: Ted Bates spent most of his life at Southampton in various roles (PA)Ted Bates spent most of his life at Southampton in various roles (PA)

Who is Ted Bates?

Bates joined Southampton as a forward from Norwich City in 1937 and soon forced his way into the first team.

The Second World War interrupted his career, but he did manage regular appearances for Saints in the wartime cups and leagues.

During this time he initially joined the War Reserve police force before working for Folland Aircraft factory at Hamble.

He appeared for Southampton up until 1952 after the war, netting 64 goals in 216 appearances according to the Bleacher Report.

In 1955 he took over as manager, guiding the club to winning the Third Division in 1960 and then promotion to the First Division in 1966.

Southampton even qualified for European football under him in 1969 and 1971.

Daily Echo: Ted Bates died at the age of 85 in 2003 (Newsquest)Ted Bates died at the age of 85 in 2003 (Newsquest)

He stepped down from the manager's job in 1973 after 18 years and joined the club's Board.

Why might the Ted Bates statue be torn down?

Evidence given by a former headteacher in the FA's independent report into historical child abuse in football has accused Bates of ignoring concerns about Bob Higgins' behaviour.

The headteacher told the FA: “Bates was enraged and threatened to take legal action if I persisted with what he called malicious gossip.” 

He also said he subsequently received a call from Higgins who "pleaded not to hound him".

One victim told The Athletic: “As a victim of Bob Higgins and after having discussions with directors, I welcome the news that the club are considering removing the statue of Ted Bates.

“It may be unpopular with some Southampton fans but those fans really need to know the truth about why this is being considered. The club need to be honest, the fans deserve to know.

Bates could, and should, have put a stop to Higgins’ offending but decided to say nothing. If the statue is not removed, then the club clearly seem not to have the victims’ best interests at heart.”