Morris charged as Chelsea impose fines

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The Independent Online

Chelsea confirmed yesterday that they had fined two of their players two weeks' wages each for breaching club rules last week during an incident that has led to criminal charges against the pair.

John Terry, 21, an England Under-21 international defender, and the midfielder Jody Morris, 23, have been charged with affray and actual bodily harm in relation to an alleged assault at a west London nightclub in the early hours of last Friday morning. Wimbledon's Des Byrne, 20, has also been charged with assault and affray. The trio are due to appear this morning at Horseferry Magistrates Court in London.

"John Terry and Jody Morris broke club rules by being in a nightclub at 1.30am, less than 48 hours before a match," Colin Hutchinson, Chelsea's managing director, said yesterday. "They will both be fined the maximum possible, which is two weeks' wages.

"We are carrying out our own investigation. For the moment, we will follow the guideline of innocent until proven guilty. We are already dealing with the matter of the curfew. Claudio [Ranieri, Chelsea's manager] and I will also be sitting down over the next few days with John and Jody Morris and spelling out the facts of life."

Adam Crozier, the chief executive of the Football Association, is understood to have held talks with the Under-21 coach, David Platt, about the matter yesterday. The FA declined to make any formal comment on whether Terry would be considered for selection for his country in the near future. Hutchinson appealed to the FA at the weekend not to make a "knee-jerk" reaction to the news that Terry was facing charges, but it is thought unlikely the player will be picked until legal proceedings have concluded.

Such a stance would be consistent with that taken by the FA when the Leeds United players Lee Bowyer and Jonathan Woodgate were charged with assault and affray in relation to an attack on an Asian student. Bowyer, who continued to appear regularly for Leeds during the legal proceedings, often playing evening games just hours after a day in Hull Crown Court, was cleared of all charges. Woodgate was found guilty of affray and sentenced to 100 hours' community service.

Chelsea's "innocent until proven guilty" stance has already been tested, with Terry playing for the his side in last Saturday's FA Cup game at Norwich. He could be in action again tonight as Chelsea face Tottenham in the first leg of their Worthington Cup semi-final.

Meanwhile, Peter Ridsdale said he will not be beaten by the hate-mail that has made his life a misery. The Leeds chairman has been bombarded by letters since the conclusion of the trial involving Bowyer and Woodgate. Members of the public have expressed their anger at Ridsdale for standing by the players.

"I have received 1,000 letters since the trial from members of the public," Ridsdale said. "The letters, which are really abusive, tend not to include their names, which is something I find very disappointing because I would really like to respond to them.

"There are about 10 per cent which are really bad, telling me what I should be doing with myself and what they would like to do with me. The letters are continuing to come in every day, but I have promised myself I will answer every single one with a personal reply.

"I feel I must write back to them to explain why they are wrong and to say to them the facts are a jury found Lee not guilty of all charges and found Jonathan not guilty of grievous bodily harm.

"I have not called in the police. I am writing to them all myself. It's taking some time writing that level of letters. I am having to work through the night to reply to them all and I still have two briefcases full left to respond to. I carry one around with me wherever I am so that I can work on them whenever I get the chance."

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