Belfast Telegraph

Cliftonville confirm Donnelly's contract has been terminated

Shamed: Jay Donnelly
Shamed: Jay Donnelly

By David Young

Cliftonville FC have confirmed the sacking of Jay Donnelly after he was jailed for sharing an indecent image of a child.

The club announced it had terminated the 24-year-old's contract with immediate effect.

Donnelly was sentenced to three months in prison at Belfast County Court on Tuesday, after an appeal judge reduced his original four-month term by a month.

The striker, of Ardilea Drive in north Belfast, admitted the charge last November at Belfast Magistrates Court.

He was informed of the club's decision on Wednesday.

The official confirmation was posted on the club's website yesterday morning.

"Cliftonville Football Club can confirm that Jay Donnelly has had his contract terminated with immediate effect, following the conclusion of our disciplinary proceedings," the short statement read.

In June 2016 Donnelly took a photograph of himself having sex with a 16-year-old girl who was wearing a Cliftonville shirt with his name and number on the back.

He shared the image with a friend and with a number of other players on WhatsApp.

It was later leaked on social media.

Donnelly admitted the charge of distributing the image at Belfast Magistrates Court on November 23.

The following day he played in a fixture against rivals Linfield.

It is unclear whether Cliftonville knew of the guilty plea at that time. It was his final appearance in the team.

His future in Irish League football is now unclear.

The Irish Football Association is also examining Donnelly's conduct, with a view to taking action.

Earlier this week it said: "Following his sentencing, the Irish FA will now consider a charge against Jay Donnelly of bringing the game into disrepute.

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

Following Tuesday's hearing, Donnelly apologised to his victim.

In a statement issued by his solicitor, he said he accepted the court's decision.

"I want to again apologise to the complainant in this case for the hurt that my action caused," he said.

"This will never erase what happened, but I hope that today's outcome provides her with a degree of closure that allows her to move on with her life."

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