Could John Terry's FA charge be thrown out?

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 15: John Terry of Chelsea celebrates after he scored the second goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Everton at Stamford Bridge on October 15, 2011 in London, England.This is John Terry’s 350th Premier League appearance for Chelsea. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)

We've been assuming since John Terry was found not guilty of racially abusing Anton Ferdinand -- in a Chelsea - Queens Park Rangers match nearly a year ago now -- that the FA would step in a drop the hammer on the Chelsea captain. Any resulting ban would see him banned for a number of games, and at least four. With Branislav Ivanovic having a nightmare so far this season, it would be great to have Terry available.

Interestingly for us, the Mirror are reporting that Terry may be let off on a technicality within the FA's own rulebook. The FA hearing begins Monday, and it's expected that Terry's legal advisors will push for the charge to be thrown out. The relevant issue appears to be that the FA recommends that evidence used in a "civil or criminal proceedings" be assumed to be true. In that case, Terry's statement that he used the offensive phrase at the centre of the incident only because he thought Ferdinand had accused him of using it against him would be required to be accepted by the FA.

Now, there's every chance this report is mistaken, and Terry will be banned. Obviously, we'd benefit from having our captain available to us in domestic competition, but you have to wonder if it would really be a good thing for us. Would John Terry, the man with the most awful of reputations, really benefit from being let off on a technicality? The court of public opinion has already decided his guilt, and they probably wouldn't take kindly to him getting off without sanction.

Maybe it doesn't matter, though. Maybe his reputation is already so ruined that "getting the punishment he deserves" wouldn't help. I honestly don't know how to feel about it. I'm not really sure if this technicality exists, or if it could protect Terry from sanction. I just know it should be interesting to watch, and it'll be good to finally have an end to this business.

UPDATE: From The FA's own website [p. 418, 6.8]:

In any proceedings before a Regulatory Commission, the Regulatory Commission shall not
be obliged to follow the strict rules of evidence, may admit such evidence as it thinks fit and
accord such evidence such weight as it thinks appropriate in all the circumstances. Where
the subject matter of a complaint or matter before the Regulatory Commission has been
the subject of previous civil or criminal proceedings, the result of such proceedings and the
facts and matters upon which such result is based shall be presumed to be correct and the
facts presumed to be true unless it is shown, by clear and convincing evidence, that this is
not the case.

In essence, this means the FA need "clear and convincing evidence" that John Terry racially abused Anton Ferdinand. As with the criminal proceeding, The FA may find such evidence hard to come by. Food for thought. (h/t Sid Celery)

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