Hammers won't sack shamed Newton

July 19, 2006

West Ham winger Shaun Newton has escaped the sack despite landing a seven-month ban from the Football Association following a positive test for cocaine.

Newton, 30, was tested immediately after West Ham's FA Cup semi-final victory over Middlesbrough on April 23 and he was subsequently suspended by the club on May 20.

Manager Alan Pardew admitted to being 'infuriated' his club's reputation had been tarnished by the incident - but vowed to stand by Newton.

Pardew said: 'West Ham United has always had a reputation as a family club and our belief here is that when a member of your family is in trouble you look after them.

Our instinct is to support Shaun and his young family and give them all the help and encouragement we can. We will work with him to help him get through this period, and ensure that he comes through the other side.

'I have seen at first hand the emotional and personal hell that Shaun Newton has been through in recent weeks, and our priority must be to help him - not abandon him. I hope his experience serves as a lesson to any sportsperson.'

West Ham had feared a longer suspension but Newton will be available for the Barclays Premiership game against Fulham on December 23 after the FA back-dated his ban to May 20.

Newton offered his apologies this afternoon, insisting it had been an isolated incident but admitting he had 'let down my family, my friends, the club and it's supporters'.

And the news has hurt Pardew badly. The pair describe themselves as 'personal friends' from their playing days together at Charlton.

Pardew's stance on ill-discipline has been firm from the moment he arrived at Upton Park.

Only two months ago he warned new signing Lee Bowyer - who failed a drugs test while at Charlton 12 years ago - that he will 'not tolerate any other incidents' from the former Newcastle midfielder.

Pardew could have followed the example set by Chelsea with the cases of Mark Bosnich and Adrian Mutu and cancelled Newton's contract, which has one year remaining.

But the player will instead face internal disciplinary action.

Pardew explained: 'It infuriates me to hear of drug-use in any sport - there is absolutely no place for it.

'It is a belief I have always held, so for it to occur at West Ham United is something that hurts and saddens me.

'Myself and my sports scientists, Niall Clarke, feel very let down.

'Although we will continue to help and support Shaun through this difficult time we are also acutely aware of our responsibilities as a club and he will face internal disciplinary action.'

Gordon Taylor, chief executive of the Professional Footballers' Association, applauded Pardew's decision to stand by Newton.

'I'm really pleased the club have been seen to support him,' said Taylor.

'All being well, he will be back before Christmas but this is a very trying time for him.'

However Taylor had little sympathy for Newton.

The PFA warn their members about drugs and raise 'player awareness of the need to maintain a lifestyle appropriate for the demands of a career as a professional footballer'.

Taylor said: 'Players are told the rules at the beginning of every season and there really are no mitigating circumstances.

'If there is a positive test it's a minimum six months.'

The FA's policy is not to name players who test positive for recreational drugs unless it is found in a test conducted after a match.

The news of Newton's failed test comes less than a week after the Wolves striker Chris Cornes was also banned for testing positive for cocaine.