Football: Johnson appeals against six-year jail term for sex with teenage fan

Former Sunderland football player Adam Johnson arriving at Bradford Crown Court in Bradford, Britain, on March 2, 2016.
Former Sunderland football player Adam Johnson arriving at Bradford Crown Court in Bradford, Britain, on March 2, 2016. PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (AFP) - Former England footballer Adam Johnson has launched an appeal against his six-year prison sentence for sexual activity with an infatuated teenage fan, it was announced on Tuesday.

Johnson, once a winger with Sunderland and Manchester City, was jailed last month following an incident with a 15-year-old female supporter in his Range Rover in County Durham, north-east England, last year.

A statement on the Adam Johnson's Appeal Fight page on Facebook, run by his sister Faye, said: "Adam's appeal against his sentence has now been lodged!"

"Thanks everyone for your support it means a lot! X"

Judge Jonathan Rose, passing sentence, said the victim - who cannot be named for legal reasons - had been a Sunderland fan who would wait after matches to take pictures of her "favourite player", Johnson, who had known her age.

"That was known to you - to put it another way she had only just turned 15 when you began grooming her, because as you were to admit you found her sexually attractive," said the judge.

The British media have reported that Johnson, 28, will soon be moved from Armley Prison in West Yorkshire to a jail closer to his home in north-east England.

However, a Prison Service spokesman said: "We don't comment on individual prisoners."

Johnson was sacked by Sunderland in February as the Premier League strugglers terminated his £60,000 (S$115,620) per week contract.

The fallout from the case saw Sunderland chief executive Margaret Byrne resign on March 8.

She said she had made "a serious mistake" in being party to the decision to let Johnson play on for the club for nearly a year despite knowing he had admitted to kissing a 15-year-old girl.