The former England striker Peter Beardsley has been banned from football for 32 weeks after being found guilty of three charges of racially abusing black players while coach of the Newcastle under-23 team.
A Football Association independent panel found that Beardsley had called a player of black African origin a monkey during a game of head tennis and had told black players “you should be used to that” on a team‑building trip to the outdoor adventure park Go Ape.
The commission condemned Beardsley’s assertion that three black players had made up allegations motivated by financial greed. “Not only did Mr Beardsley allege that some of the players had put their heads together to tell serious and hugely damaging lies, but he advanced a florid story of greedy motives implicating the agent of two of them for which he must have known that he did not have a shred of evidence,” the commission said. “When he was pressed about this during his evidence … he did not withdraw them. We regret to say that this aspect of Mr Beardsley’s evidence does not reflect well on him.”
The panel concluded that a stiff punishment was necessary. “The continuing prevalence of racism in its many forms in football today is the reason why we consider that racist remarks such as those made by Mr Beardsley cannot be tolerated and must be punished by a substantial period of suspension. A light penalty would send out entirely the wrong message.
“Even if he did not intend to do so, he plainly did cause offence. It is particularly important at a time when racism in football is prevalent that remarks of the kind made by Mr Beardsley are punished severely.”
Beardsley, who left Newcastle in March, was also found guilty of questioning the legitimacy of a black player’s age, which the panel said was “a negative stereotype that players of black African origin commit fraud as to their true age”. The 58-year‑old’s comments were, the panel concluded, “obviously racist and wholly unacceptable” and it found him guilty of three aggravated breaches of FA Rule E3. He is banned from all football and football-related activity until 29 April 2020 and has been ordered to attend an FA education course.
The panel said it did not believe that Beardsley, who denied the allegations, was racist but concluded he had committed acts of racial discrimination. “We are satisfied that Mr Beardsley is not a racist in the sense of being ill-disposed to persons on grounds of their race or ethnicity,” the panel said.