Liverpool FC captain Steven Gerrard has been charged with assault during an alleged brawl. He risks up to five years in jail if convicted. He will appear at Magistrates' Court on January 23, just four days after the Merseyside derby against Everton.
AFP - England football star Steven Gerrard was charged Tuesday with assault over an alleged bar brawl while out celebrating a win for Premiership leaders Liverpool, police said.
Liverpool football club voiced its full support for the 28-year-old, who was released on police bail but could in theory could face up to five years in jail if convicted.
"Steven has been an outstanding servant to Liverpool for the last ten years and the club will give him all the support he needs at this time," a spokesman said, in the club's first comment since the incident early Monday.
The Liverpool captain, 28, was charged along with two other men who were also arrested at around 2:30 am Monday after the incident at the Lounge Inn restaurant and bar in Southport, near Liverpool in northwest England.
The venue's disc jockey, a 34-year-old man, required hospital treatment after suffering facial injuries.
"He was charged in the early hours of this morning with assault and affray," a spokesman for Merseyside Police told AFP.
"The three men will be appearing at North Sefton Magistrates' Court on January 23," said a police statement. Three other men arrested in connection with the incident were released on police bail.
The player could face up to five years in jail if convicted, according to a spokesman for the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), who said that was the maximum sentence for assault, while affray draws a maximum term of three years.
If he were sent to prison, Gerrard would follow in the boots of Manchester United legend George Best, jailed for 12 weeks for drink-driving and assaulting a policeman in 1984, and more recently Joey Barton, the Newcastle midfielder jailed for six months for attacking a man in Liverpool in December 2007.
Gerrard, not normally known for off-field indiscretions, featured heavily on the front pages rather than the back sports pages in newspapers Tuesday.
According to The Sun daily, Gerrard has been assured that his England career under coach Fabio Capello is safe despite his arrest, while the Daily Telegraph said he is unlikely to face a Football Association or club charge.
Monday's incident occurred hours after Liverpool won 5-1 at Newcastle United on Sunday, with Gerrard scoring two goals. Also charged were John Doran, 29, and Ian Smith, 19, both from Liverpool.
The Reds head into the New Year with a three-point lead over Chelsea at the top of the Premier League table.
Liverpool won the last of their record 18 English titles in 1990 and keeping star player Gerrard fit and available is widely considered essential if they are to win the Premier League this season.
Gerrard has played 70 times for England and captained his country.
Born in the Liverpool suburb of Huyton, Gerrard has only ever played professional club football for Liverpool, for whom he made his debut in 1998.
Three years ago he inspired the team to come from 3-0 down at half-time to beat Italian side AC Milan in the Champions League final in Istanbul as Liverpool reclaimed European club football's most prestigious trophy.
Last year, Gerrard signed a contract keeping him at Anfield until 2011 and this October saw him score his 100th goal for the Reds.
The footballer is not known for controversy. However in 2001 he was spotted out drinking 11 hours before he was due to meet up with the rest of the England squad and had to apologise to then national manager Sven-Goran Eriksson.
Date created : 2008-12-30