Archives

Daily Telegraph

THE Football Association wanted Rio Ferdinand to be banned for two years for missing his drug test.

The United defender was suspended for eight months on Friday, but The Daily Telegraph can reveal that Mark Gay, the solicitor who presented the prosecution case for the FA last week, argued that Ferdinand’s failure to take the test at Manchester United’s Carrington training ground on Sept 23 was such a serious offence that he should be given the maximum penalty of two years.

Gay, I understand, went on to say that if the tribunal felt they could not give the England defender two years, then under no circumstances should his ban be less than a year.

It was against this draconian demand from the FA that the three-man disciplinary panel — headed by Barry Bright and including fellow FA councillors Frank Pattison and Peter Heard — met.

The tribunal discussed the length of the ban after they had concluded, at around 6pm last Friday, that Ferdinand was guilty of a drug offence. In deciding the sentence the tribunal had to take into consideration the fact that Ferdinand offered to come back the same day and take the test and later took the test two days later and was shown to be free of drugs.

Ferdinand’s QC, Ronald Thwaites, made a powerful mitigation plea arguing that Ferdinand’s was a case of forgetfulness and not a refusal to take the test, and that he should not be made an example of as the FA had argued. This clearly proved persuasive, for the panel decided they could not give the FA what they wanted and settled on an eight-month sentence.

This revelation will alter perceptions of the case. Until now it has been almost universally believed that the sentence on Ferdinand was severe and far in excess of the three-month ban that had been widely predicted.

In some circles Ferdinand’s lawyers have been blamed for the eight-month sentence on the grounds that they took a very hard legalistic attitude to the case, pointing out how the testing procedures were full of holes, and therefore helped create the problem. Given that all the football clubs accept these procedures and Mike Stone, the Manchester United doctor, was responsible for making sure Ferdinand took the test, this, it has been argued, was not a very clever strategy.

However, given that the FA wanted a more severe ban, Ferdinand’s lawyers could say that they did well to reduce his sentence to eight months.

Where Ferdinand goes from here depends on the detailed legal reasons for the tribunal’s decisions. As of yesterday they had provided merely written confirmation of their decision. The detailed reasoning is being prepared by barrister John Mason and may not be ready for some days: only when this is available will Ferdinand’s advisers know how to make their appeal. They will have 14 days from receiving the written judgment, and provided Mason’s statement comes in the next week, that will be around Jan 7.

Once the appeal is made, Ferdinand’s ban, which is meant to come into effect on Jan 12, will be put in abeyance and he will carry on playing until the appeal, which will be more like a second hearing in front of a different FA panel, is held. Ferdinand’s advisers may well decide they will not appeal the verdict, merely the sentence, and try to reduce it.

© Mihir Bose

      

Share |
Categories: Football | 1 Comment »

Comments

 

Latest Tweets

Follow me on twitter

Home | About | Books | History | BroadcastingJournalismPublic Speaking | Contact

MihirBose.com | Website development by Pedalo