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 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 15 January, claimed to have said: “fuck off back to your caravan you prick.” The midfielder eventually admitted the breach when charged on 26 February.

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.

Source Article