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Burnley striker Andre Gray banned for four matches following homophobic tweets

There was better news for Irish defenders Stephen Ward and Kevin Long, who have signed new deals with the club.

The forward is due to miss Premier League matches against Watford, Arsenal, Southampton and Everton.
The forward is due to miss Premier League matches against Watford, Arsenal, Southampton and Everton.
Image: Nigel French

BURNLEY STRIKER ANDRE Gray will serve a four match suspension after being found guilty of misconduct for homophobic comments he posted on Twitter in 2012, England’s Football Association announced on Friday.

The 25-year-old published the tweets when he was a non-league player, but they resurfaced on social media after he scored in Burnley’s 2-0 home win over Liverpool in the Premier League last month.

One tweet read: “Is it me or are there gays everywhere? #Burn #Die #Makesmesick.”.

Gray admitted he had breached FA regulations for three of the six postings he was called to account for but denied the others were — the FA thought otherwise.

“Burnley forward Andre Gray has been suspended for four matches commencing with immediate effect for misconduct in respect of social media comments,” read the FA statement.

“It was alleged that six postings on his Twitter account were abusive and/or insulting and/or improper and/or brought the game into disrepute contrary to Rule E3(1).

“It was further alleged that these breaches of Rule E3(1) included a reference to sexual orientation and/or gender and/or colour and/or race contrary to Rule E3(2).

“The player admitted to three of the breaches, and denied the remaining three were in breach of FA Rules.

“Following an Independent Regulatory Commission hearing yesterday [22 September 2016], the remaining three breaches were found proven.

“The player was also fined £25,000 (€28,800) and warned as to his future conduct and ordered to attend an FA education course.”

Gray, last season’s Championship Player of the Year, had apologised prior to being charged with misconduct when they came to light.

In his apology, posted on Twitter, Gray wrote: “I have a lot of regrets regarding a number of things I’ve done in the past and realise I have made some big mistakes, none more so than these tweets, but I would like to stress that I’ve worked incredibly hard to completely transform my life since that time.

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“To clarify, I do not hold the beliefs written in those tweets whatsoever.

“I can assure everybody that I am absolutely not homophobic and as said previously I can only apologise and ask for forgiveness to anyone I offended.”

However, in better news for the Premier Leauge club, Irish pair Stephen Ward and Kevin Long have agreed to extend their stay at Turf Moor for another 12 months.

The defenders along with midfielder Dean Marney are now contracted to the newly-promoted side until the summer of 2018.

Ward, who joined the Clarets from Wolves in 2014, was an instrumental part of their promotional push in the second half of last season, and has gone on to make 42 appearances for the side.

While former Ireland U21 defender Long, joined the Lancashire-based club from Cork City in 2010, but injuries have restricted the 26-year-old to just 27 appearances for the team.

The centre-back has joined five different Football League clubs on-loan since his arrival from the League of Ireland, and ruptured a cruciate ligament that sidelined him for 11 months on his Premier League debut in 2014.

Long has made just one appearance so far this season for Burnley – starting in their 1-0 away loss to League Two’s Accrington Stanley in the EFL Cup.

-Additional reporting from Shane Costello

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