Ban could force Suarez out, fears Houghton

The former Republic of Ireland international believes the Reds’ controversial Uruguayan striker could quit the club after he was banned for 10 games

By Russell Stoddart

Former Liverpool midfielder Ray Houghton has called Luis Suarez’s 10-game ban for biting “excessive” compared to the eight he received for racially abusing Manchester United’s Patrice Evra last season.

And Houghton has blasted the FA’s disciplinary procedures as being “outdated” and in need of radical overhaul.

Suarez had accepted a charge of violent conduct and expected the maximum three-match ban, but an independent regulatory commission agreed with the FA that such a suspension was insufficient.

The ban, which begins with immediate effect, will include the first six games of next season.

Houghton said: “Handing out a longer ban for biting than racial abuse doesn’t add up. How did the FA reach that decision?

“Of course, biting is unacceptable, but racial abuse is far more serious.

“The FA hide behind their disciplinary panels and independent commissions, but it’s about time they faced up to the fact that the punishments don’t always make sense.

“In this case, 10 games is excessive and I’m sure Liverpool will feel they’ve got a good chance of overturning the length of the ban.

“I sometimes wonder if the FA just like to flex their muscles to show who is boss. If so, why didn’t they also take retrospective action against Liverpool’s Daniel Sturridge and Manchester City’s Samir Nasri for dangerous tackles on Sunday?

“The key about disciplinary action is that it must be seen to be applied fairly and in this case I don’t think it is.”

Houghton is worried that the latest controversy might mean that Suarez could decide to move on in the summer.

He added: “If the ban is upheld that will mean that two bans has cost him 18 games – almost half a season.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if his advisers are telling him that it is time to cut his losses and move on.

And as exclusively revealed earlier this week, the Reds would be willing to entertain marquee offers of £40 million upwards. Liverpool, for now, have control. His new long-term, £100,000-a-week contract in August did what Premier League defenders can’t – tying the striker down. Well, for now, at least.

“The ball is very much in the player’s court and he needs to go in to a corner with people that he trusts and sort himself out.

“For his sake and the club’s sake he must learn to control his actions on the pitch. It is in his DNA and won’t magically disappear without him accepting he is wrong and addressing it.

“Despite it all, Liverpool coach Brendan Rodgers won’t want him to go. There are not talented players like Suarez around, certainly not at Liverpool.

“If you take Suarez’s 30 goals out of Liverpool’s season then you are faced with a season that is not very good – and that’s putting it mildly.

“The problem with Liverpool is that there might not be very much they can do about it. We saw with [Cristiano] Ronaldo at Manchester United, if your top player has his heart set on leaving then they usually get their wish.”

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