Howe hoping FA do not 'throw the book' at Tonali for betting

AFP , Friday 29 Mar 2024

Newcastle boss Eddie Howe is hoping Sandro Tonali is shown some understanding by the English Football Association (FA) after being hit with a further charge of breaching betting rules.

Newcastle s Sandro Tonali applauds as he leaves the pitch during the Champions League group F soccer match between AC Milan and Newcastle at the San Siro stadium in Milan, Italy, on Sept. 19, 2023. AP


Tonali is currently serving a 10-month ban, handed down by the Italian authorities, for betting on matches during his time with AC Milan.

The 23-year-old, who joined Newcastle from Milan in a £55 million ($69 million) deal in July, only played 12 matches for the Magpies before his suspension kicked in.

He is due to return from his ban at the start of next season, but could now be hit with a further suspension after he allegedly broke FA rules 50 times by gambling on matches between August and October last year.

Tonali's agent Giuseppe Riso has insisted the player is battling a gambling addiction.

"That illness didn't stop when he moved from Italy to England, that illness was there and people should look at it that way, not let's throw the book at him and let's punish him even further because I don't think that gets to the root of the problem," Howe said on Friday.

"We need to protect all our players because this is something that's open to everybody and becoming a bigger problem in society, so this isn't just a problem for Sandro."

Tonali's 18-month suspension was reduced by eight months on condition that he underwent treatment for his addiction and made 16 public appearances in Italy to talk to young players about the dangers of gambling.

But Howe believes he can still be a key player for Newcastle once he is allowed back on the field.

"He is seeking help on a regular basis. This is something that won't go away for him, so he has regular meetings in Italy and in England to deal with the problems that he has," added the Newcastle boss.

"I'm really positive about his comeback, whenever that is, that he'll have a huge impact on the team."

Tonali's absence has played its part in a disappointing season for Newcastle.

Any hope of silverware disappeared with a FA Cup quarter-final exit to Manchester City in their last outing before the international break.

Howe's men are 10th in the Premier League but do still have a shot at European football next season.

They can close to within one point of West Ham in seventh with victory when the Hammers visit St. James' Park on Saturday.

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