Phillips Blasts FA Over Pilkington Ban
Monday 1st August 2016 @ 12:06 by Mark Phillip
Football Sports

Ashton United joint manager Paul Phillips has blasted the Football Association for their decision to ban striker Martin Pilkington for four years, describing the verdict as ‘an absolute joke’.

Pilkington, 28, is suspended from all football related activity for four years after being charged by the FA for breaching betting regulations during the 2014/15 season.

However, the final 12 months of the ban is suspended for a period of two years.

A supporter’s favourite, Pilkington scored 70 goals in 153 games for the Robins during his three years with the club, but now faces a lengthy spell on the side-lines which could signal the end of his career, according to manager Phillips.

Questioned on the ban, which was sanctioned in accordance with FA regulations at a hearing on July 20, Phillips said: “It’s a massive loss to the club.

“I don’t want to talk out of line, but I feel the FA have badly let him down.

“He’s a non-professional player, and they’ve slapped him with this ban and fine – I think it’s an absolute joke.”

Phillips believes rehabilitation would have been a better alternative for Pilkington, but acknowledges the player did wrong. He said: “I think rehabilitation would have been better for Martin – he knows he’s done wrong.

“The saddest fact about the situation is that when the FA originally came in to talk about these breaches, Martin openly admitted it.”

According to Phillips, Pilkington admitted he had a problem and sought advice from Gamblers Anonymous.

However, having spoken to the FA and asked for an appeal meeting, the striker was apparently ‘backed into a corner’. Phillips added: “He has no right of appeal because it’s going to cost him tens of thousands of pounds which he doesn’t have.

“We’ve set up a page on twitter to get this issue off the ground, but it’s a lot of money and, realistically, Martin doesn’t have that money and neither does the football club.

“He’s not got a job so, realistically, the FA have put someone on the dole.

“The money he earned from playing football has been taken away from him. I hope they can live with themselves for doing that.

“We feel he’s been badly treated by a bad association.”

Following the ban, Pilkington took to Twitter and offered his thoughts. He said: “Not enough done to help and it’s like just being thrown out in the trash, no help off the FA.

“I signed a form which I didn’t really read about gambling and nothing was solidly made aware of the consequences. I hope that other players will learn from this and if I am the example that it works for these lads.”