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Terry considers appeal over ban for racial abuse

Friday, 28 September 2012 - 11:56am IST | Agency: The Daily Telegraph
The Chelsea defender was banned and fined £220,000 after being found guilty of misconduct in a Premier League match against Queens Park Rangers last season.

John Terry will take legal advice before deciding whether to appeal against the four-match ban for racially abusing Anton Ferdinand handed down by a Football Association disciplinary commission on Thursday.

The Chelsea defender was banned and fined £220,000 after being found guilty of misconduct in a Premier League match against Queens Park Rangers last season, in which he admits he directed the words "f------ black c---" towards Ferdinand.

Terry was acquitted of criminal charges arising form the same incident in July, but the FA disciplinary arm pursued the case despite the not-guilty verdict at Westminster Magistrates' Court.

The Chelsea captain was found guilty of using "abusive and/or insulting words and/or behaviour, which included a reference to ethnic origin and/or colour and/or race" by an Independent Regulatory Commission convened by the FA.

The Daily Telegraph can reveal that the IRC was chaired by barrister Craig Moore, and also included FA councillor Maurice Armstrong. Stuart Ripley, the former Blackburn Rovers winger, was a third member of the panel. The FA prosecution case was led by Matthew Johnson, its head of Regulatory Legal Advice.

Terry's ban is half the length of the eight-match suspension handed to Liverpool striker Luis Suarez, who was also fined £40,000 after being found to have repeatedly used the word "negro" towards Patrice Evra last season.

The length of Terry's ban is sure to attract comment, being just one match more than players receive for violent conduct, and at the lower end of the scale for misconduct with racially aggravated circumstances.

The FA is likely to counter any criticism by arguing that its pursuit of charges against such a high-profile player demonstrates both a determination to combat racism, and the independence of its disciplinary procedures.

Labour shadow sports minister Clive Efford MP welcomed the decision: "The FA is right to take action over John Terry's remarks," he said. "It is unfortunate that Terry's England career has come to an end surrounded by controversy but racism cannot be tolerated and it has to be confronted no matter who is involved."

The FA's pursuit of charges despite the criminal acquittal may also remain contentious. Terry's lawyers attempted to have the case thrown out, claiming the FA's own rules effectively banned double jeopardy where the case has been examined by a criminal court.

The FA argued that its regulations require only that a player is proved to have uttered offensive language, with intent only considered in the sentencing. Terry admits using the words, but claims he used them because he thought Ferdinand was accusing him of using them in an abusive way earlier in the game.

The panel's reasoning should becoming clear in the full written judgment that will trigger a 14-day period in which Terry can appeal, but it is understood he will not challenge the decision unless he is advised he has legal grounds.

The appeal can only address the legal basis of the decision and Terry is prepared to be guided by his legal team, led by George Carter-Stephenson QC.

The verdict did not come as a shock to Terry, who was resigned to losing the case and prepared the ground for defeat by announcing his retirement from international football on the eve of the three-day hearing.

Terry said the FA's decision to pursue the charges following his acquittal made his position with the England team "untenable", and last night sources suggested that he was unlikely to reverse that decision, even though he has received support from Roy Hodgson.

In reality the decision has spared the FA and its chairman David Bernstein the task of deciding whether he could be selected for the national team again. Bernstein has already stripped Terry of the captaincy, ruling he could not lead the side into Euro 2012 when it was clear the criminal trial would not be concluded before the tournament.

Terry returned to Wembley on Thursday morning to hear Moore announce that he was guilty. Terry then listened as Carter-Stephenson offered arguments in mitigation. Terry and his lawyers left Wembley around midday, leaving Moore and fellow panellists Armstrong, a member of the FA judiciary committee, and Ripley, to consider the sanction. Their verdict was announced at 3pm.

In a statement released by his management company Terry said he was disappointed at the verdict. "Mr. Terry is disappointed that the FA Regulatory Commission has reached a different conclusion to the clear not guilty verdict of a court of law," it said. "He has asked for the detailed written reasons of the decision and will consider them carefully before deciding whether to lodge an appeal."

Chelsea issued a short statement saying they respected the decision, but would not comment until a decision was made over an appeal. Terry remains available for selection and will expect to feature in the squad for this weekend's game against Arsenal.

The club's support for Terry has clear from the presence of chairman Bruce Buck in court throughout the criminal trial, and at Wembley during the disciplinary hearing.

Manager Roberto de Matteo is giving a press conference today but will be instructed not to answer questions on Terry in line with the club's policy. Terry has paid his own legal fees.

The IRC heard evidence from both Terry and Ferdinand, as well as supportive testimony from Ashley Cole, Ray Wilkins, Fabio Capello and his assistant as England manager Franco Baldini, who both provided character references for the former England captain.




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