Belfast Telegraph

Gillespie and McCartney fined

By Steven Beacom

Northern Ireland stars Keith Gillespie and George McCartney have been fined by the Irish Football Association for their part in last week's plane bust-up on the way home from the European Championship qualifier in Iceland.

It is interesting to note, however, that a senior IFA source informed The Belfast Telegraph today that Gillespie's fine was more severe than McCartney's.

The astonishing fracas involving Sheffield United winger Gillespie and West Ham defender McCartney took place in front of shocked passengers as an Icelandair flight was about to depart Reyjkavik for London Heathrow.

Gillespie later apologised for his part in the incident which happened in the wake of Northern Ireland's 2-1 defeat against Iceland when Gillespie's own goal in the last minute gave the home side the win.

In a statement the IFA said: "Issues surrounding the incidents which occurred involving certain players within the Northern Ireland squad during the trip to Iceland have now been addressed and resolved.

"The IFA wishes to apologise to any members of the public who were affected in any way by the behaviour of these players."

Within that statement IFA President Raymond Kennedy said: "The IFA has been shown up in a poor light as a result of behaviour, which of course is unacceptable and whilst the public apology from Keith Gillespie goes some way towards a recognition of that, the players concerned have been told quite categorically that such behaviour has caused unnecessary embarrassment to the IFA in the eyes of the football world and the public as a whole and will not be tolerated in future."

The statement concluded: "The players responsible are to be fined and those fines will be allocated to a charity of the IFA's choice.

"There will be no further comment from the IFA on this subject."

When contacted by The Belfast Telegraph this morning, Kennedy said: "We have spoken to those involved and they know we won't stand for this again."

Asked about calls to suspend the players, Kennedy said: "We were limited in what we could do.

"We are not condoning this matter in any way but I don't think our fans would be happy if we banned the players."

Injury permitting both Gillespie and McCartney are set to play in Northern Ireland's next Euro qualifier in Sweden in October.

Belfast Telegraph


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