Jordan Turner, the Sheffield amateur footballer banned for five years, has had his sentence more than halved at an appeal hearing attended by one of the FA’s top brass, writes Alan Biggs.
Turner now has just seven more months to serve and can play again in October following the verdict – and to cap his joy he has been immediately snapped up for next season by Hallam FC.
The 25-year-old striker has personally thanked Mark Ives, the FA’s London-based discipline manager, for apparently intervening on his behalf.
“I’d like to thank Mr. Ives and the FA – I now feel they’ve treated me fairly and justice has been done,” Turner told The Star following his hearing in Sheffield.
The FA had originally refused the player a second appeal against his sentence, of which he has served 14 months since being banned in January last year. Now he can return to playing from October 1st with the original suspension axed to 21 months.
A publicity offensive that saw football figures, including ex-referee Mark Halsey, support Turner’s claim that the ban was too harsh has led to a rethink. And the involvement of a senior figure proved a significant breakthrough.
Ives attended the five man panel which included two members of the Sheffield and Hallamshire FA, which handed down the original sentence.
But Turner fully accepts he was in the wrong and deserved punishing. He grabbed a referee’s cards and threw them at him after being sent off for foul and abusive behaviour in a Meadowhall Sunday League game while playing for Handsworth Turf Tavern.
One of the cards caught the referee, John Reeves, on the nose, scratching it. That constituted an assault, though Turner claimed it was accidental.
The severity of the punishment polarised opinion. Some said it had to be harsh in order to protect match officials in exposed situations while others called it “draconian.”
“All I wanted was fair treatment,” said Turner. “I’m delighted. It hasn’t sunk in yet that I can look forward to playing again when at one stage I’d virtually given up hope.”
“I was very nervous at the hearing but they made me feel at ease and able to relax and present my case. I told them how much my life had been affected.
“I feel I’ve learned a massive lesson from all this and now just want to get on with getting fit and playing again.”
Hallam manager Ryan Hindley said: “I think the world of Jordan. He’ll be joining me in October – when I’ll look after him and keep him out of trouble.”