Men in court accused of off-duty PC Neil Doyle's murder
Two men have appeared in court accused of the murder of off-duty police officer Neil Doyle.
PC Doyle, 36, was allegedly attacked on a Christmas night out near the Aloha Club in Liverpool early on Friday.
Andrew Taylor, 28, of Cherry Tree Road, Huyton and Christopher Spendlove, 30, of Brandearth Hey, Stockbridge Village appeared at Liverpool Crown Court.
They were remanded in custody until 6 January when they will appear via videolink at the same court.
The pair also face a charge of grievous bodily harm with intent against two other police officers, Michael Steventon and Robert Marsh, who were were allegedly assaulted in the same incident on Colquitt Street.
The officers were treated in hospital for facial injuries.
No applications for bail were made as the Recorder of Liverpool, Judge Clement Goldstone QC, adjourned the proceedings and said a trial date would be set at the next preliminary hearing.
It is understood both defendants, believed to be close friends, played football together while studying at Oklahoma City University in the United States.
They were team-mates at US soccer league outfit Austin Aztex who were managed at the time by former Everton player Adrian Heath.
Mr Taylor returned to the UK to sign for non-league team Forest Green Rovers in 2009 before later moves to Burscough FC and Vauxhall Motors.
Mr Spendlove stayed in the US and went on to play for Portland Phoenix, Wilmington Hammerheads and Oklahoma City Energy, where he was appointed assistant coach in January.
The general manager of Oklahoma Energy, Jason Hawkins, said in a statement: "Given the seriousness of the charges, we have made the decision to dismiss Chris from the organization.
"That said, we are deeply saddened by the news of the incident and our hearts go out to the family of the police officer who lost his life."
PC Doyle died of bleeding around the brain, a post-mortem examination revealed.
He married in July and was due to go on honeymoon next month.