By Darren Rudham
Let it be known, the FA has overstepped their bounds here. But how could they not? This was the perfect storm for them. How many times are you going to be able to throw Liverpool FC into disrepute AND get to engage in the loudest sabre rattling heard in the English game over one the league’s ugliest issues in the same fell swoop? All of the pieces just fell into their overstuffed laps.
Enter Luis Suarez. A man who famously (or infamously depending on your country of origin) handles a ball on the line in a World Cup quarter final; a man who performs the game’s first ever walk-by biting; a man who gives fans the finger (allegedly). Whether or not he said anything to Patrice Evra is almost irrelevant. He is easily cast a villain. And an easy target.
Then there’s LFC itself. As a club, with the debacles of ownership and managerial and on-field woes, we’ve never been as vulnerable to the wiles of the FA as we are now. It is the perfect platform to use Fergie’s agenda to knock us and our barbarous Northerness further off our perches. If you are small and/or weakened, the FA will kick you. Count on it.
One thing is abundantly clear, with what the FA has meted out in the past, the punishment hardly fits the crime. Had this been a criminal court of law, it would’ve been thrown out through lack of evidence. They won’t overturn this charge. They can’t. But then, they never intended to. This is the messenger. So why not have rung as loudly as possible in every town square in every footballing town in England?
They will drop the number of games on appeal. Precedent demands it. Anyway, they’ve made their point. It also serves as a display of clemency. One stone. A whole flock of birds. Is it hypocritical? Certainly. Egregious? Undoubtedly? Flat out nefarious? Without question. It’s the FA. And they’ll keep the money. Of course.
All this makes one thing crystal clear – I LOVE LIVERPOOL FOOTBALL CLUB. The way they have handled the whole issue to this point, culminating in the masterstroke response letter after the charges were made public has been nothing but class.
The coup d’ grace in the final paragraph almost made me weep. Sheer genius. The club has effectively said: “when you’re done banging on your drum, how are going to pay the piper?” How the FA responds to this nearly-veiled challenge should prove priceless.
Also, don’t expect Luis to be picking up splinters in the very near future. The prison term doesn’t begin until after the appeal process – and this should prove to be an appeal for the ages. The pound of flesh the FA is looking for will have no blood in it. The club will see to that.
The principle of the appeal aside, drawing the process out also gives the club a chance to weigh their options in the January window and to get the team ready for the inevitability of suspension. We need Luis for February. Well, we need him in every game he’s fit for, but especially in February. (Whether or not we let some of the kids get a chance or if we should get into the horror-fest that is January, is a story for another day.)
And let us not forget, he might also get “fingered” for an alleged incident after the Fulham game. Even in the event of a successful appeal process, it still may be an eight week Luis-less season.
I wonder if the lads will be in black this afternoon for the Wigan fixture. Seems fitting to mourn the passing of due process and sensibility in English football.