ROY O’Donovan will miss up to nine rounds of the A-League season after the Newcastle Jets striker was unsuccessful in having a 10-match suspension reduced on appeal.
The Irishman was given the ban – the second largest in A-League history – after he pleaded guilty in May to serious foul play for a high-foot challenge which struck Melbourne Victory keeper Lawrence Thomas in the jaw in the 93rd minute of the Jets’ 1-0 loss in the grand final.
O’Donovan appealed against the severity of the sentence at a hearing in Sydney on Tuesday night, where the striker maintained that he only had eyes for the ball.
His barrister Simon Philips was allowed to introduce new evidence which compared O’Donovan’s challenge to others made in the competition which received lesser penalties. The player also gave evidence during a three-hour hearing.
However, the panel of Allan Sullivan QC, Justice Rachel Pepper and former national league midfielder Peter Tsekenis deliberated for less than 10 minutes before dismissing the appeal.
SPORT: The Newcastle Jets
“Roy is shattered as I am,” Jets chief executive Lawrie McKinna said. “The PFA lawyers did a good job. They brought in video evidence of a [Besart] Berisha tackle, one by Shane Smeltz on Jets keeper Neil Young and a couple of others. But it was evident early that they were not going to change anything. All they told us at the end is that they wouldn’t be overturning the ban.”
The panel is expected to publish their findings in due course.
O’Donovan’s suspension, which can be served in the FFA Cup and A-League, will start when the Jets take on Gold Coast Knights in their FFA Cup round of 32 match at Cbus Super Stadium on August 7. He could wipe up to four games off before the A-League season starts.
“Roy will continue to train and travel to Spain with the squad for a pre-season tournament,” McKinna said. “Hopefully we have a good run in the FFA Cup which will get rid of a few games.”
In isuing the 10-match ban at the initial hearing, IDEC chairman John Marshall SC said the “flying kick” was “the most dangerous play which has ever come before the committee”.