Guilty King faces jail term

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The Independent Football

Wigan chairman Dave Whelan has confirmed Marlon King will never play for the club again after he was jailed for 18 months today.

The striker was found guilty of sexual assault and actual bodily harm over an incident in a London nightclub, which occurred in December while he was on loan at Hull.

King spent a subsequent spell on loan at Middlesbrough before returning to the Latics in the summer, but he will now be left without a club after a mandatory notice period has expired.

Whelan told Sky Sports News: "We have to follow the rules and regulations, which means we will have to give him 40 days notice that his contract will be cancelled.

"He is absolutely sacked - we will not tolerate football players who get sent to jail for 18 months. As far as we are concerned, he is finished with football at Wigan Athletic."

King was celebrating both his wife's pregnancy and scoring a winning goal hours earlier when he was repeatedly "cold-shouldered" by women revellers in London's packed Soho Revue Bar.

When a slightly-built university student became the latest to recoil from his touch, he lost his temper and in an outburst of "completely gratuitous violence" lashed out, "smashing" her to the floor.

His single clenched fist blow was so powerful that two other revellers - one of them holding on to his arm - were also sent flying.

While bouncers moved in to restrain the muscular £5million striker, friends rushed to the aid of his victim.

As she was helped to her feet, blood poured from her shattered nose, London's Southwark Crown Court heard.

The 29-year-old, from Waltham Cross, Hertfordshire, claimed he was a victim of "mistaken identity".

But after hearing overwhelming evidence from a string of witnesses, including a football coach who insisted he was the assailant, the jury decided he was lying.

He was unanimously convicted of sexually assaulting the 20-year-old and causing actual bodily harm.

Whelan continued: "It sets such a bad example for our youngsters coming through, who are just crazy about being professional footballers.

"Young people look up to professional footballers and we must have standards. At Wigan we're mad keen on setting standards and our players, generally, are absolutely brilliant.

"It can happen to any club - this has happened while the lad was on loan to Hull. I don't blame Hull in any way, shape or form, but we have to stand up and be counted."

The chairman revealed he had doubts over King's application when he first joined the club, and had warned him repeatedly.

King also served five months behind bars in 2002 after being caught at the wheel of a stolen £30,000 BMW, while he has found himself in the dock on seven previous occasions for dishonesty, various motoring offences and violence against women.

Whelan said: "Right from the start, players are told that they are representing Wigan Athletic and their behaviour must be impeccable both on and off the field, especially off the field - when they're on the field, everyone can see what's going on.

"I do personally regret the day - when we signed him I always thought his heart and soul wasn't in being a professional footballer. We loaned him out last year, we were trying to off-load him this year and couldn't.

"I sat him down this year personally and said 'Marlon, this is your last chance to get yourself into the game and be a professional footballer'. He actually trained hard, I have to say that. Now, he's not managed to get onto the park, only a couple of times as a sub, but it is very disappointing."

And the 72-year-old believes clubs will have to be very brave to take a chance on the talented frontman when he is released.

"It will be very, very difficult for any club to stick their neck out and take Marlon on, I cannot really see him coming back as a professional," Whelan added.

"A lot of people will say you do something wrong and you get a sentence, and when you've completed it you should be allowed to go back in. I wouldn't allow him back in, but I think a lot of other people will allow him back in."

A statement on Wigan's official website, www.wiganlatics.co.uk, confirmed King's departure.

It read: "Following the news that Marlon King has been sentenced to 18 months imprisonment, Wigan Athletic wishes to confirm that the player's contract will be terminated with due notice, in accordance with the terms and conditions of his contract and the Premier League rules.

"The incident took place while the player was on-loan at Hull City but ultimately still as a Wigan Athletic player and a representative of the club.

"Although the club was aware of the incident at the time, it was not aware of the severity, and therefore believes that the sentence received is justified by the player's actions."

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