Under-fire football club ‘will not shirk its responsibilities’
Cliftonville FC, under fire over a player who was handed a four-month prison sentence for sharing an indecent photograph of a child, has distanced itself from his behaviour.
Donnelly (23) of Ardilea Drive in Belfast, was convicted of sharing an indecent photograph of a child in November at Belfast Magistrates Court. On Thursday he was sentenced to four months in prison, but released on bail pending appeal.
In a brief statement on Thursday, which did not mention the victim, Cliftonville FC said it will give the judgment “due consideration”. Following criticism, Cliftonville FC issued a lengthier statement yesterday.
“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,” the club said.
“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.”
The club statement also urged patience, saying: “We are constrained by the framework within which we as employers are legally obliged to operate.”
The statement added: “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.”