Johnson may have played his last match

Adam Johnson
Adam JohnsonPHOTO: ACTION IMAGES

PFA chief Taylor says chances of former Sunderland midfielder playing again are 'very remote'

LONDON • The shame of Adam Johnson's sexual crime means that he will be unable to return to professional football after completing his six-year prison sentence, according to the head of the players' union in England.

Johnson was jailed on Thursday after being found guilty of sexual activity with a 15-year-old girl and will serve at least three years in jail before he can be released on licence.

Gordon Taylor, the Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) chief executive, said he could not see any chance of the 28-year-old being able to return to the game.

"I feel the prospect of that is to say the least very remote, if at all," said Taylor, who insisted that the players' union had put no pressure on Premier League club Sunderland to continue to play Johnson even after he had been charged.

"No, I can say very truthfully that was not the case - it was a decision for the club," he said. "This is not a case of passing the buck or seeking to blame people, that is exactly what happened.

"It was the job of the employer to look at that and they didn't give us any information that would cause us to say, 'Are you sure?' on this matter."

GETTING HIS JUST DESERTS

We were particularly surprised and disappointed to see on the first day of the trial that he had pleaded guilty to two of the charges. Adam Johnson is where he is now as a result of his own actions.

GORDON TAYLOR , Professional Footballers' Association chief executive, on Adam Johnson's punishment.

Taylor told BBC Radio 5 live: "No player is above the law of the land and we were particularly surprised and disappointed to see on the first day of the trial that he had pleaded guilty to two of the charges. Adam Johnson is where he is now as a result of his own actions."

The former England winger, who had playing spells with Manchester City and Middlesbrough, had admitted grooming the girl and one charge of sexual activity but had denied two other charges.

His lawyer, Queen's Counsel Orlando Pownall, told Bradford crown court that Johnson had lost his career and had been stripped of his 12 England caps.

"He has lost a lucrative career he will never be able to retrieve," Pownall said. "He has been stripped of his England caps.

"He has been made the subject of national humiliation and these are all aspects of punishment that arise from his pleas and conviction."

However, sources close to the Football Association have said that there is no process for stripping any player of their international appearances.

Johnson was sacked by Sunderland when he entered his guilty pleas last month.

Controversy still surrounds whether he delayed his pleas to lengthen his playing career and how much Sunderland knew about his culpability. Margaret Byrne, the club's chief executive, resigned after the controversy broke.

THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 26, 2016, with the headline 'JOHNSON MAY HAVE PLAYED HIS LAST MATCH'. Print Edition | Subscribe