FORMER Bury FC player Andy Woodward has left the Offside Trust, the campaign group and charity he helped set up to support victims of football’s child sexual abuse scandal.

He launched the trust in Manchester in December with fellow former professional footballers Steve Walters and Unsworth.

It was Woodward’s powerful interview with The Guardian in November that provided the catalyst for a process which has seen police receive more than 1,000 referrals in a UK-wide investigation, covering almost 250 clubs, with more than 500 potential victims and nearly 200 suspects.

But Woodward has now stepped away from the trust.

In a statement the trust said “great strides” have been made, with support from across the sporting landscape pouring in and talks progressing with advisors, charity experts, potential funders and governing bodies on the “optimum structure, governance and strategy” for the trust.

“This had led to a number of changes including the registered directors of the Offside Trust,” the statement said.

“Andy Woodward is no longer a director of the trust but remains a key ambassador, supporter and friend.

“Everyone involved in the Offside Trust would like to put on record their wholehearted thanks to Andy for his enormous courage in coming forward and making public some of the darkest secrets in the football world.

“He will continue to play a key role in highlighting this issue and making sport safer for all children in the future. We look forward to working closely with Andy and other players who have shown such bravery in the last few weeks.”