Newcastle's Eddie Howe hopes there's no further ban for Sandro Tonali after betting allegations

Credit - Eddie Howe - ITV
Tonali - PA
Newcastle coach Eddie Howe and midfielder Sandro Tonali Credit: ITV/ PA

Newcastle United head coach Eddie Howe has said he hopes there are no further bans for midfielder Sandro Tonali following alleged betting offences.

Speaking at a press conference ahead of the team's match against West Ham on Saturday 30 March, Howe urged the Football Association not to “throw the book” at the player.

It comes after it was announced that the FA had charged the footballer for allegedly breaching their betting rules.

The charges relate to alleged offences committed after signing for Newcastle in the summer. He is alleged to have breached FA rule E8 50 times by betting on matches between 12 August 2023 and 12 October 2023.

The 23-year-old is currently serving a separate ten-month suspension from the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) for betting offences committed during his time with AC Milan.

Tonali has until 5 April to respond to the latest charges.

Howe, who has been without his summer signing from AC Milan since the autumn, is hoping English football’s governing body will not impose another stringent punishment.

Giuseppe Riso, Tonali's agent says he's battling a “gambling addiction”.

Howe said: “The news that there was an FA charge, that illness didn’t stop when he moved from Italy to England, that illness was there and people should look at it that way, not ‘let’s throw the book at him and let’s punish him even further’ because I don’t think that gets to the root of the problem.

“We need to protect all our players because this is something that’s open to everybody and becoming a bigger problem in society, so this isn’t just a problem for Sandro.”

When asked if he was worried Tonali, who cost around £60million to sign could be handed a consecutive ban to run after the existing penalty has come to an end, Howe said: “We don’t know, is the honest answer. I certainly hope for Sandro that there are no further consequences.

“He has suffered during this period, he has sought help, he’s been very honest, he has admitted he has an issue, and I think the best thing for Sandro would be to resume his career having taken his punishment and having learned a lot of lessons from this.”

Tonali’s initial 18-month suspension was reduced by eight months on condition that he underwent treatment for his addiction. He was also made to talk to young players in Italy on at least 16 occasions about the dangers of gambling.

While serving his worldwide ban, Tonali is still allowed to train with Newcastle, but cannot play again until the end of August.

According to Howe, Tonali is "seeking help on a regular basis. This is something that won’t go away for him, so he has regular meetings in Italy and in England to deal with the problems that he has.

“But I have to say mentally, he’s been very good in his training sessions, he’s been very good off the pitch. He’s been a brilliant team-mate to the people here and supporting team-mates and training really well to set a positive example.

“His English has improved a lot as well, which has been great. He can communicate now really well with his team-mates, which is such an important thing.

“I’m really positive about his comeback, whenever that is, that he’ll have a huge impact on the team.”

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