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Six-match ban for player charged with racial abuse of Irish midfielder Alan McCormack

Elliott Whitehouse admitted referring to McCormack as ‘a pikey’ during a game last November.

Elliott Whitehouse of Grimsby Town.
Elliott Whitehouse of Grimsby Town.
Image: Simon Cooper/PA Archive/PA Images

THE FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION has banned Grimsby Town midfielder Elliott Whitehouse for six matches after he was charged with misconduct for breaching FA Rule E3.

In addition to the suspension, Whitehouse must pay a fine of £2,000 and undergo a face-to-face education course.

The 26-year-old Englishman admitted referring to Irish midfielder Alan McCormack as “a pikey” during his club’s game against Northampton Town last November.

Part of an FA statement released today reads: “The Grimsby Town FC midfielder used abusive and/or insulting words, which were contrary to FA Rule E3(1) and constituted an ‘aggravated breach’, which is defined in FA Rule E3(2), as they included a reference to race and/or ethnic origin and/or nationality.”

The report that accompanies the statement explained that during a verbal altercation in the 72nd minute of the League Two fixture, which Northampton won 2-0, Whitehouse was alleged to have said to McCormack: “That’s all you fucking do is moan, you pikey.” 

Giving his evidence, McCormack said: “I was certain I had heard [him] correctly, but couldn’t believe someone would use a discriminatory term so openly. We were within two yards of each other and I clearly heard the comment. In a state of disbelief, I asked him ‘what the fuck did you say?’ and he responded ‘shut up you pikey’.”

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The account provided by the 36-year-old Dubliner was corroborated by statements from his Northampton Town team-mates Chris Lines, Nicky Adams and Jake Hessenchaler, who also alleged that Whitehouse used the term.

PA-40643239 Alan McCormack joined Northampton Town from Luton Town last summer. Source: Richard Sellers/EMPICS Sport

McCormack reported the abuse to referee Andy Haines at the time of the incident and in the changing room after the game. Whitehouse initially offered no response when it was put to him, but admitted the charge when responding on 30 April.

Written submissions filed on his behalf stated that “he has no issue with the Irish traveller community and is not in any way a racist”.

The FA report added: “The player says that ‘pikey’ was not the term he would use, ordinarily, to describe a member of the travelling community. He thought the term was simply an alternative to ‘gypsy’ and he had no idea until the interview with the FA that it was particularly offensive or insulting. He admitted to using the word and apologised.” 

Whitehouse, who began his career as a youngster at Sheffield United, is now out of contract after Grimsby announced last week that he’s one of several players who hasn’t been offered a new deal for next season.

Last month, a similar case culminated with Sam Finley of Accrington Stanley receiving an eight-match ban and a fine of £850 for using the word ‘pikey’ in reference to Republic of Ireland and Rochdale defender Paul McShane.

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Paul Dollery

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