Cliftonville FC calls in NIFL and Irish FA to help "educate" players on acceptable behaviour

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PA Reporter

An Irish League football club has distanced itself from the behaviour of one of its players who has been handed a four-month prison sentence after being convicted of sharing an indecent photograph of a child.

Cliftonville striker Jay Donnelly, 23, of Ardilea Drive in Belfast, was convicted of the charge in November at Belfast Magistrates' Court.

On Thursday he was sentenced to four months in prison, but released on bail pending appeal.

After being criticised for the brief statement it issued on Thursday, Cliftonville FC on Friday issued a lengthier comment, emphasising it does not condone such behaviour.


It said: "We wish to reiterate, as we said in our statement of December 1, that the club does not condone such behaviour and recognises the impact that this has had on the victim and her family. We condemn such actions without question.

"We previously stated that the club will not shirk its responsibilities to our members, supporters and the wider community and that remains the case. The club is currently receiving legal advice and, when we are in a clear position to act, the club will do so, responsibly and within the requirements of employment law."

Cliftonville FC also urged patience and called on fans to show support ahead of its home game against Ards on Saturday.

"We ask for your patience and continued support going into tomorrow's fixture with Ards and assure our supporters that, as well as being amenable to addressing our fans as closely as possible, we remain dedicated to acting in the best interests of CliftonvilleFootball Club pertaining to all matters at all times," the club said.

"Cliftonville Football Club has today asked both the Irish FA and NIFL to be part of a consultative group that will help frame the club's player education policies going forward. We will also continue our work with all the relevant authorities and other charitable and advisory bodies and cooperate as necessary.

"Cliftonville FC takes its position within the football and wider community very seriously. We expect our players' behaviour, on and off the pitch, to reflect the proud history and culture of our club. We will seek out the most appropriate way to reinforce that message, including bringing in external advisers who can work with all our players on issues around relationship behaviour, social media and mutual respect."

The Irish Football Association has announced that Jay Donnelly has been referred to its Disciplinary Committee which will decide if he has brought the game into disrepute.

"Following the case and the issues that it raised, the Irish FA in conjunction with the Northern Ireland Football League (NIFL) will introduce a new education programme around lifestyle, attitude and values for club players and staff," the Irish FA said in a statement.

"It is proposed that this programme will be linked to club licensing, making it mandatory.

"Cliftonville Football Club has today asked both the Irish FA and NIFL to be part of a consultative group that will help frame the club's player education policies going forward.

"The safeguarding of children remains the highest priority of the association and our sympathy is with the victim and her family in this case."

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