Lawrenson - Suarez becoming PR liability for squad

FORMER Liverpool defender Mark Lawrenson believes Luis Suarez’s ten-game ban leaves the club in an awkward position over whether to keep the controversial Uruguayan.
Suarez has been given a ten match ban. Picture: GettySuarez has been given a ten match ban. Picture: Getty
Suarez has been given a ten match ban. Picture: Getty

The English FA have suspended Suarez for ten matches with immediate effect for biting Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic during Sunday’s match at Anfield.

Lawrenson, who played for Liverpool for seven years during their 1980s halcyon days, stressed that the striker is now becoming more of a hindrance than a help to the Merseyside club.

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“The thing about Suarez is he is now becoming a constant offender, and Liverpool are going to have to make a decision re Suarez and the future,” explained Lawrenson.

“I think it’s a possibility he will have to leave. They are trying to sell season tickets at the moment and people will be saying ‘hold on a minute, is Suarez going be here, is he going to miss 20 per cent of the season?’ It’s a really tough one for Liverpool.

“I think they will appeal and might get it to eight. He’s now becoming a constant offender. There’s probably a sheet of A4 paper with all his offences over his career.

“He and Ivanovic had a few niggles before the incident but nothing really seriously untoward. Jamie Carragher and Steven Gerrard said maybe he needs some help – he obviously does. At the moment it’s to the detriment of the football club. You wonder what he will do next.

“It [Suarez leaving Liverpool] is a possibility. But any business where you have an asset worth £30m or £40m, nobody is going to sack him.”

Suarez is on the six-man shortlist for the Professional Footballers’ Association player of the year award and PFA chief executive Gordon Taylor said yesterday: “It would be embarrassing if he is named Player of the Year.

“But we have got to deal with it and make sure he is player of the year not just in a footballing sense but as a human being as well and we will be trying to do that.”

Taylor hopes the two-pronged approach of a strong sanction and education will work in Suarez’s case.

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He said: “I think there is a twin approach. There is a sanction but also an education to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

“The deterrent is definitely sending out a strong message but what I would like to re-emphasise is trying to get a player, in this case Luis Suarez, back on track and make sure there is a proper programme of counselling. There is a sports psychologist at Liverpool and clearly you hope there will be a renewed effort to improve matters in the future and we have made our offer of help on that.”

Liverpool Supporters Club chairman Richard Pedder said: “I don’t think it’s a shock, I think he deserves everything he gets. It’s down to the club to tell him ‘this is your last chance’. He won’t leave the club [this summer]. They shouldn’t have said anything and just accepted the ban.

“With them releasing a statement, it’s going to go on and on again and we want it closed. We haven’t had enough but we’re concerned. Nobody is bigger than the club.”

The ten-game ban is not only harsher than the eight-match suspension handed to Suarez in December 2011 for racially abusing Patrice Evra, but is significantly more than the four-game ban given to John Terry last year for racist abuse. The FA, though, is expected imminently to announce a new and more severe minimum ban for racism.

Former FA compliance officer Graham Bean thinks Suarez’s claim that a three-game ban would be the right punishment could have been behind the length of the suspension:

He said: “I expected it to be seven or eight. He challenged the FA with a ridiculous assumption that three games was sufficient and that may have backfired on him. There is a degree of window dressing, the FA trying to send a message out as a PR ­exercise.”