As a source of sound sense and judgement, the Football Association were falling well short of satisfaction even before the headless-chicken mode they entered with the loss of their chief executive, Mark Palios, but I feel their treatment of Adrian Mutu was just about right.
The 25-year-old Romanian, who admitted taking cocaine, was suspended for seven months, fined £20,000 and ordered to take a rehabilitation course, after which he will face regular tests.
Considering that the drug was not performance-enhancing, that he confessed frankly and shows all the signs of a sinner capable of repentance, this was a just decision. Had it been more harsh than the eight-month ban Rio Ferdinand received for avoiding a test, it would have signalled that tests are worth missing.
Chelsea's reaction was astonishing. Their chief executive, Peter Kenyon, slammed the FA for their lenience in not giving him a two-year suspension, and threatened to sue the player for compensation. Not content with disowning the player and sacking him, they want to pursue him to the gates of hell. I can't recall anything more despicable, and I wonder if their indignation has a deeper root.
For a start, if I was owner Roman Abramovich, I would want to know who sanctioned the transfer fee of £16m on a "cokehead". Chelsea were flinging money about so wildly that they obviously didn't spend much time checking the backgrounds of their purchases.
And is their claim for compensation anything to so with wanting to see Mutu portrayed in the worst possible light? The prospect that Mutu could be playing for a rival next May can't be too pleasant for them, either. Nevertheless, I find the thought of him banging a few in against them next season very comforting.
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