Cliftonville drop Jay Donnelly after image conviction
An Irish Premiership football club has dropped one of its most prominent players for a match this weekend after he was convicted of distributing an indecent image of a child.
Cliftonville striker Jay Donnelly had continued to appear for his club after the allegation emerged.
The 23 year old admitted the charge last Friday and will be sentenced in January.
A separate count of taking or making an indecent photograph was withdrawn.
The north Belfast club said it is “dealing with a very sensitive and delicate matter” in relation to Donnelly.
‘Difficult to resolve’
It said its committee had been “availing of advice from all parties involved, as well as support organisations” because it wanted to make sure it acted “correctly when dealing with legal and employment matters”.
“We assure all that this situation is extremely difficult to resolve and ask our supporters and indeed the media to please bear with us as we seek a resolution,” the club added.
“Having spoken to all parties and Jay Donnelly, it has been decided Jay will not represent Cliftonville Football Club in [Saturday’s] fixture with Dungannon Swifts.”
The club added that it had received legal advice not to comment further on the case.
The Belfast Feminist Network was due to hold a protest against Donnelly’s inclusion in the team at Cliftonville’s Solitude ground on Saturday.
It has since called off the demonstration due to the club’s decision to drop the player.
‘Tackle misogyny robustly’
“We’re pleased that he’s not playing – that was our initial ask,” Elaine Crory from the organisation told the BBC’s Evening Extra programme.
But she said the club “could go further” by explaining what would happen next.
“Will he be playing in the coming weeks?” she asked.
“He won’t be sentenced until January so it remains to be seen what Cliftonville plan to do with him over the next couple of weeks and indeed into the future.”
Ms Crory said the Belfast Feminist Network sent a list of questions to the club about how it had handled the issue but did not get answers to all of them.
She called on all sports clubs to make sure they are “dealing with misogyny as robustly as they deal with sectarianism”.
On Friday, Cliftonville’s first team coach Neil Adair posted on Twitter that he had resigned from his role.
The Court Service has confirmed that Donnelly was convicted of one charge – distributing or showing an indecent image of a child on a date between June and October 2016.
Pre-sentence reports have been ordered before Donnelly, of Ardilea Drive in north Belfast, is due back in court early in the new year.
With many thanks to: BBCNI for the original story.