Accrington player handed eight-match ban for calling Paul McShane a ‘pikey’

Sam Finley denied using the term; FA did not treat it as an ethnic slur

Paul  McShane had reported to the match officials being called “pikey” by Accrington’s Sam Finley. Photograph:  Harry Hubbard/Getty Images

Paul McShane had reported to the match officials being called “pikey” by Accrington’s Sam Finley. Photograph: Harry Hubbard/Getty Images

 

The Accrington Stanley midfielder Sam Finley has been handed an eight-match ban for calling the Republic of Ireland international Paul McShane a “pikey”.

Finley was charged with an aggravated breach of the Football Association’s rules after a League One game against McShane’s Rochdale in January. An independent regulatory commission has found the comment was a slur based on the Wicklow-born defender’s nationality and, as well as the suspension, fined Finley £850 (€965) and ordered him to attend an FA education course.

The midfielder could have been hit with an 11-match suspension for a second aggravated breach of FA Rule E3 (1), having made reference to the sexual orientation of a match referee in 2016. But the commission considered the insult referred to McShane’s nationality only and did not treat it as an ethnic slur. That view, along with Finley’s eventual admission of guilt, resulted in the lesser sanction.

Finley initially denied calling the former Sunderland, Hull and Reading defender a “pikey” after McShane told the referee, Tom Nield, he was racially abused during the game on New Year’s Day. After the match the 27-year-old told Nield that he had called McShane “a prick” and, when interviewed by the FA on January 15th, claimed to have said: “f**k off back to your caravan you prick.” The midfielder eventually admitted the breach when charged on February 26th.

In the written reasons for its decision, the commission says: “The participant [Finley] had nationality in mind since in his witness statement he says ‘I did make reference that Paul should go back to his caravan and that I was referencing his being Irish in doing so’.”

It adds: “Nevertheless, the word ‘pikey’ implied more insult than being implicitly called merely ‘Irish’. ‘Pikey’ has well-known disparaging connotations associated with the term and is therefore commonly considered a slur.”

Finley’s suspension is with immediate effect until Accrington have completed eight matches. The Liverpool-born player, who was released by Everton when he was 16, is permitted to appeal.

It is not the first lengthy ban handed down for abuse against an Irish player, with Rotherham’s Kirk Broadfoot handed a 10-game ban and fined £7,500 (€8,500) under Rule E3 (1) for aiming sectarian abuse at Ireland international James McClean in 2015.

The exact nature of the offending comments were never made public after a confidentiality agreement was signed prohibiting anyone involved in the case from commenting on it.

The ban was a record for verbal abuse in English football, beating the eight games handed to Luis Suarez when he was found guilty of racially abusing Patrice Evra in December 2011.

Last week, Grimsby midfielder Elliott Whitehouse was charged by the FA with alleged racist abuse towards a Northampton player.

The incident, which involved an unnamed Cobblers player, took place in the two clubs’ League Two clash on November 23rd.

Whitehouse has until May 4th to respond after being charged with an “aggravated breach” of FA Rule E3(2).

– Guardian

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