Thursday, January 15, 2009

Player sacked over Munich jibes

Source: Manchester Evening News

Chris Osuh
15/ 1/2009

A FOOTBALLER who mocked the Munich air disaster during a game against FC United has been sacked by his club.

John Lawless, 26, who played in midfield for Merseyside team Marine FC, sparked uproar during the match at Gigg Lane by making an 'aeroplane' gesture with his arms while taking a corner.

Stewards had to restrain furious FC United fans from running on to the pitch. A second Marine player, Shaun Tuck, was warned by police at half-time for making a similar gesture.

It later emerged that Lawless was a member of a group on social networking website Facebook dedicated to making cruel jibes about the crash.

Now, Marine FC has announced that the 26-year-old - whom they signed from Colwyn Bay just a few months ago - has had his contract cancelled.

Eight of Manchester United's 'Busby Babes', three club staff and eight journalists were killed in the 1958 air crash.

FC United was formed by Manchester United fans angered by the Malcolm Glazer takeover.

Munich survivor Harry Gregg blasted Lawless' behaviour as 'stupid' last night.

The 76-year-old former goalkeeper, who pulled teammates from the burning plane, told the M.E.N.: "This behaviour has no place in football.

"It's nonsense to make signals relating to a tragedy that happened a long time ago and few clubs, certainly not Liverpool Football Club, would tolerate a player doing so."


Sandy Busby the 72-year-old son of the late Sir Matt Busby, said Lawless' behaviour was 'pathetic'.

He added: "He's embarrassed Marine and he's embarrassed himself.

"It's very poor form. I would personally urge Manchester United and FC United fans not to rise to it when idiots try and make you have a go at them."

A statement on Marine FC's website said: "Marine FC announces that contract player John Lawless has today left the club and his contract has been cancelled by agreement of both parties."

The club's chairman, Paul Leary, added: "We have received a written enquiry from the FA regarding allegations.

"The club has responded to the FA in writing and has also spoken to the players regarding the complaints.

"The two players have also been written to by the FA and they too have responded in writing. Both the club and the players are cooperating fully with the enquiry by an officer of the FA."

Referee John Corkhill included the incident in his match report, which prompted Unibond League officials to report the matter to the Football Association (FA).

The matter is likely to come before the FA's regulatory commission, which will consider the referee's report and decide if a charge should be brought. Croxteth-raised Mr Lawless, a former Liverpool FC trainee who has a 'Liver Bird' club tattoo, would then have about one week to respond to any charge.

FC United general manager Andy Walsh said: "We will have to see what the outcome of that investigation is.

"I would like to praise the professional approach of the match day stewards and police who moved quickly to deal with the incident in a responsible way so problems were kept to a minimum.

"I want to say 'thanks' to FC United fans who did not rise to the bait."

Greater Manchester Police football intelligence officer, PC Tony Brown, said: "Offensive behaviour will not be tolerated and it is testimony to the swift actions of the officers at the match that this situation was dealt with quickly and without any further incidents."