10:00am Monday 26th January 2009
A FOOTBALL player accused of mocking the deaths of plane crash victims has been given an official warning by the sport’s governing body.
But despite being contacted by the Football Association, former Marine FC player John Lawless has refused to admit he did anything wrong.
Mr Lawless and team-mate Shaun Tuck, are alleged to have made an aeroplane gesture — an apparent reference to the Munich air disaster of 1958, which killed eight Manchester United players — to FC United supporters during a clash at Gigg Lane last week.
The story was exclusively reported first on the Bury Times’ website.
Last Friday, the FA gave Mr Lawless and Mr Tuck written warnings.
Marine chairman Paul Leary has apologised to supporters of FC United for any offence caused but Mr Lawless, who has since left the club, maintains that he is innocent.
His lawyer, Ged Nolan, from Canter Levin and Berg, said: “John left Marine by mutual consent. He wasn’t sacked so, contrary to reports elsewhere, he will not be making any legal challenges against leaving Marine.
“John has said he did not make the aeroplane gesture but he did say that he raised five fingers to the crowd.”
The five-fingered gesture is to symbolise that Liverpool have won the Champions League five times to Manchester United’s three.
Mr Lawless has since signed for Welsh Premier League side Caernarfon Town.
Mr Leary said: “This has been a very difficult time for our club. We are a long-established club with high standards and an excellent reputation both on and off the pitch. The publicity surrounding this has been damaging to us.
“I apologise to the fans of FC United of Manchester for the events that have led to both the inquiry by the FA and to the departure of John Lawless from Marine.”