Newcastle are expected to appeal against the suspension and fine after an independent disciplinary commission found the former England midfielder had committed the offence.
That misconduct charge was imposed following allegations that the player directed racially abused Romain Saïss, a Moroccan midfielder, in the 87th minute of the 2-0 Championship defeat by Wolverhampton Wanderers at St James’ Park on 17 September.
It is understood that at Tuesday’s hearing in Birmingham the three Wolves players called as witnesses gave accounts of the alleged insult, with one claiming Shelvey had called Saïss “a smelly Arab”. Another witness is believed to have claimed he heard the word Arab attached to a different insult while the third is understood to have suggested he used the word “Moroccan” in a derogatory context.
Newcastle sources say Shelvey, who has also been ordered to attend an FA education course, continues to maintain his innocence and is adamant he did not use the words in question.
Until any appeal is concluded or the club accept the charge, the suspension will be “set aside”, meaning Shelvey could be free to play in the Championship leaders next three league games over the holiday period.
Newcastle appear to be convinced of Shelvey’s innocence and their instinct is said to be to challenge the verdict.
Although at least one team-mate of Saïss reported their concerns to Walter Zenga, Wolves’ then manager, immediately after the game and the Italian informed Tim Robinson, the match referee, the misconduct charge was not issued until 8 November.
Matters were apparently complicated by Saïss’s limited English and a lack of video and audio footage, allied to confusion as to what had been said.
A five-game suspension is a minimum mandatory sanction in such cases – the then Liverpool striker Luis Suárez was sidelined for eight games after racially abusing the former Manchester United left-back Patrice Evra back in 2012 – and the FA has the right to appeal against the length of any ban on the grounds of leniency.
A £12m signing from Swansea last January, the 24-year-old former Charlton and Liverpool midfielder has six England caps and earns around £80,000 a week.
Meanwhile, James Norwood a player for Tranmere Rovers in the English National League (5th Division) has been criticised by campaigners for ‘blacking up’ for a party, by dressing as a sunglasses salesman. Kick it Out described the costume as ‘ill-thought-out’ and ‘out of date’.
Blacking up is seen as racially insulting in the UK.
Supplied by Reuters