Sunderland frustrated after Emmanuel Eboue ban adds to Sam Allardyce's woes
Sunderland boss Sam Allardyce has admitted his frustration at losing Adam Johnson and Emmanuel Eboue from his squad as he attempts to fend off relegation from the Barclays Premier League.
The 61-year-old insists Johnson, who has just started a six-year prison sentence for engaging in sexual activity with a child, got exactly what he deserved, but having lost Emmanuel Eboue to a 12-month FIFA ban over a wrangle with a former agent, he was left bemoaning his misfortune.
Allardyce said: "We have lost a hugely-talented player in Adam Johnson, irrespective of his indiscretions. He's got what he deserved, but I have lost a talented player that I would have liked to have kept, but it's taken out of my hands by other factors.
"Emmanuel Eboue - what part might he have played for us in the next eight games? Who knows now? I won't be able to find out, a man as experienced as him at 32 years old."
FIFA revealed that Eboue, who signed a short-term deal at the Stadium of Light earlier this month, was facing a year out of the game after a four-year row over a debt owed to former agent Sebastian Boisseau.
The governing body said in a statement: "Emmanuel Eboue, who has represented Cote d'Ivoire and is currently registered for the English club Sunderland AFC, is to serve a ban on taking part in any football-related activity that will last for one year or until he pays the total outstanding amount owed to his former agent if this occurs before the one-year ban has elapsed."
Sunderland's response was to serve notice of termination of the player's contract, a decision over which he has two weeks to appeal.
A club statement said: "The suspension relates to a monetary dispute between the player and a former agent, which precedes his time at Sunderland AFC and was not something that the club was made aware of by the player.
"Eboue signed a contract with Sunderland AFC until the end of the current season and the club has therefore given notice of its intention to terminate the contract. The player has two weeks in which to appeal this decision."
Boisseau's lawyer, James Severn, insisted that his client's decision to invoke the ban, which he was entitled to do after FIFA's disciplinary committee granted the player a final 120 days' grace in which to settle the debt in September 2014, was a last resort.
He said: "My client's claim against Mr Eboue was filed with FIFA in February 2012 and more than four years later, Mr Eboue has taken no steps whatsoever to satisfy the debt.
"It is disappointing that FIFA and Mr Boisseau have been forced to resort to a playing ban to enforce Mr Boisseau's rights. My client hopes that Mr Eboue will now take immediate steps to settle the outstanding debt so that he can continue his playing career."
Allardyce, who insists the club knew nothing of the matter until a few days ago, said there could yet be a way back for Eboue after an eventful few weeks which have also seen Johnson sacked and chief executive Margaret Byrne resign.
He said: "It's bizarre. It has been rather, in off-the-field activities, something I haven't experienced before, but as a professional and as experienced as I am, you have to deal with it and deal with it the way it needs to be dealt with.
"There'll still be a door open if those problems are sorted in the next seven to 14 days. If that's the case, there may be a way back, but it's hugely frustrating having spent so much time - and him committing so much time.
"There we go, but he probably relied on other people too much and didn't keep a close enough eye on it himself to make sure it didn't get to this situation, but unfortunately it has."