King should never play football again

I LIKE to consider myself pretty liberal, and I’m all for giving people who have made mistakes a second chance.

When that person is newly-signed Coventry City striker Marlon King though, I’m afraid I get rather more right-wing.

King, for those who don’t know, this week signed for the Sky Blues after serving half of an 18-month prison sentence for sexually assaulting and then punching a young woman in a London bar.

Regardless of what he does for a living, such behaviour is beneath contempt. But the fact that he is a well-paid (�35,000-a-week at Wigan) professional footballer merely reinforces the ever-growing stereotype of players as spoilt, vain, aggressive thugs.

King, though, goes one step further. A man (and I use that term in the loosest possible way) who has clocked up 13 previous convictions – including more violence against women – and has already served time in prison, he is nothing short of a disgrace to football.


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He’s had his chances, and then some. He should never be allowed to play again. The FA should already have banned him for life and sent a message that playing football professionally is a privilege, not a right.

I know there are even some Coventry fans who agree with me. Enough, in fact, for manager Aidy Boothroyd to feel that he had to appeal for supporters to give King a chance this week.

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Sorry Aidy, but you’re wrong on this. King is not a man who’s lived a respectable life spoiled by one mistake - like, for example Ricky Hatton, whom I defended last week. Nope, he’s a waste of oxygen.

Let me clarify. Marlon King has had many advantages in life. He is gifted enough to play football at the highest level, earn a fantastic living and treat himself and his wife (yep, he’s married) to the things that only money can buy.

So how did he cherish his blessings, use his gift for good?

Well, on a celebratory night out after he’d scored a winning goal and learned that his wife was pregnant, King punched Emily Carr so hard that he shattered her nose and sent two friends flying.

Her crime? She rejected his no doubt charming advances.

He later told club officials that he’d done nothing wrong. I’m sure, in his warped mind, he hadn’t.

The fact that he is to be allowed to continue playing upon his release from prison – where I hope he found out that he’s not such a big man – sends a catastrophic message to those who play, follow and love football, and sport in general.

It is time to get tough. No fence-sitting allowed.

One of my favourite quotes about basketball legend Michael Jordan came from fellow hoops icon Bill Russell, who once said that Jordan was a ‘better man than he was a basketball player.’

Quite a compliment, considering Jordan is widely considered to be the greatest to ever play the game.

Unfortunately for King, and the rest of us, he is better-than average as a footballer but a complete failure as a man.

He still needs football, but football does not need him.

n What do you think? Let me know on e-mail at mark.heath@archant.co.uk. You can also follow me on Twitter @mark__heath and read my blog, Playing the Links, at www.greenun.co.uk

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