Ex- Premiership footballer Adam Johnson will arrive at Bradford Magistrates Court tomorrow morning to hear the Judge’s final comments on his case before the jury deliberate.
Over the weekend bookies slashed the odds on Johnson getting ‘sent down’ but after sparking a huge amount of interest from prisons which have teams in the English Prison Football League (EPFL); the question on everybody’s lips is: which prison will he be sent to?
Philomena Todger, governor of HMP Wakefield, is delighted by the fact Johnson may be housed within her walls.
“It’s great news,” she said. “We’re giddy with anticipation of a Premier League star playing for us. Hopefully he’ll arrive before this season ends but if not; we’ll wait until August before the new season.”
But geography is playing an important part of where Johnson will be sent. HMP’s Northumberland and Durham both believe they are in with a shout considering Johnson still played for Sunderland even whilst being investigated.
“…Jermaine Pennant, who illegally hunted badgers…”
Clarke Piss-sparrow, manager of HMP Durham football club Durham Slashers, said: “We’re hoping he gets a five year sentence, then we can take a serious look at the team getting out of the bottom three before pushing on to a top four finish in future seasons. Johnson would be an important factor in that.”
The practice of allowing footballers who’ve been jailed to play for the prison teams came about in 1990 when Tony Adams, serving 56 days for drunkenly riding endangered turtles in a zoo, was instrumental in helping HMP Chelmsford win the league title after only playing four games.
But should the crime of which the prisoner has committed be taken into account? Unlike jailed footballers Joey Barton, who repeatedly ignored one way street signs or Jermaine Pennant, who illegally hunted badgers; Johnson’s crimes are far more serious.
Dr Malcolm Lubesheath; thinks it should: “This isn’t a game. Johnson has to do his time for his crime and he must do it like an ordinary prisoner, not a version of himself from the outside world. The likes of him or any other footballer should not be treated any differently.”
Dr Lubesheath also referenced the 2014 undercover report at HMP Manchester where the prison was found to be treating their football team with unfavourable fairness including having other inmates forced to massage players, unlimited use of social media and frequent trips to Hollywood Bowl after match wins. The team were also allowed to train at Manchester United’s Carrington training complex in preparation for a cup final tie against HMP Leeds.
Minister for prisons, Sedgeway Arsebleach MP, has ordered a review of the prison sport system and will take his findings to a parliamentary meeting next Wednesday.
Photo used belongs to http://www.bbc.co.uk
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