Sam Finley: Accrington Stanley midfielder gets eight-game ban for abusing opponent

Sam Finley
Sam Finley has made 82 appearances for Accrington Stanley since joining in the summer of 2018

Accrington midfielder Sam Finley has been banned for eight matches by the Football Association for using abusive language towards an opponent.

Rochdale's ex-Republic of Ireland defender Paul McShane reported he had been abused by Finley during their League One fixture on 1 January.

Finley, 27, initially denied the claim but, after being formally charged, admitted making a comment to McShane.

An FA panel was "content to treat the insult as by nationality only".

Finley, who has the right to appeal the sanctions, has also been fined £850 and must attend a face-to-face FA educational programme.

WARNING: The section below contains offensive language

The regulatory commission heard that Finley had also been charged in 2016 for an aggravated breach of FA Rule E3(1) while playing for AFC Fylde, when he "used abusive and/or insulting words, which included references to sexual orientation, towards a match referee".

That previous offence made the starting point for sanctions in this case an 11-game suspension - however, Finley's subsequent admission of the charge and the panel's agreed view that the comment was "nationality-based only" saw that reduced to an eight-match ban.

The written reasons of the caseexternal-link state that in the first half of the match at Wham Stadium, McShane reported to referee Tom Neild that he had been "racially abused" by Finley, "having been called a pikey".

Neither the referee nor his fellow officials heard the incident at the time.

In a post-match interview with the referee and his manager present, Finley denied using the term "pikey" and said he had used another offensive word towards McShane.

Later that month, Finley was interviewed by the FA and again denied using the term.

In his witness statement, Finley said: "I did make reference that Paul should go back to his caravan and that I was referencing his being Irish in doing so."

However, the written reasons say that "consequent of being formally charged on 26 February", Finley "admitted the charge".

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