08:00 Thursday 30 January 2014

Life ban could be in offing for man accused of ref headbutt

Written byROB SMYTH

THE player who allegedly headbutted a referee during an amateur football match could face a ban for life from the sport, according to league officials.

Mike Fellows, disciplinary manager for the Birmingham County Football Association, spoke to the Mail after it was revealed that a 33-year-old from Burton had been charged with assault of an official and causing the abandonment of a game.

It comes after respected Burton referee Dave Clarke was left in hospital for two days with a fractured cheekbone following the alleged incident, which took place after he produced a red card during the Pedigree/Tag league game between Eton Athletic and Real Medina FC at Eton Park Recreation Ground, in Shakespeare Road, Burton, on Saturday, January 18.

If the player in question is found guilty, he will be banned for life – with no chance of appealing the punishment for at least 10 years.

Mr Fellows said: “I can confirm that the player in question has now been charged with assault of an official and causing the abandonment of a game.

“He now has 14 days to reply to the charge and tell us whether he intends to plead guilty or not guilty.

“However, once we know what he intends to do our investigation is placed on hold until the outcome of the police investigation into the matter is resolved.

“The player was suspended immediately after we received the referee’s report, from all football – from playing to coaching.

“If the player was found guilty, he would face a lifetime ban.

“Then it would be 10 years before he could appeal against the decision and try to get the ban lifted.

“When he has the option, he could re-apply and the suspension could be lifted, it could be looked at again in a set number of years or it could be kept in place indefinitely.”

Mr Clarke, who has been refereeing matches in Burton for 37 years, is still recovering from his injuries at his home in the town.

Eyewitnesses told the Mail that the game had not been ‘ill tempered’ until Mr Clarke looked set to send off one of the players.

This was when he was allegedly headbutted.

Investigations were launched by Staffordshire Police and the Birmingham County Football Association.

Police officers arrested a 33-year-old man, from the Burton area, on suspicion of causing grievous bodily harm just days later, who was bailed pending further inquiries.

A spokesman for Staffordshire Police said: “The man is still on bail while officers continue to conduct inquiries and the investigation continues. If anyone knows anything, please get in touch.”

Anyone with any information is asked to call police on 101.

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