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Adam Johnson - What We Know, What Happens Now

Just what is going on with Adam Johnson? No sensationalism, no editorial agenda, just the facts.

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By now, I'm pretty sure everyone is aware of the news from yesterday about Adam Johnson. There are all sorts of rumours, judgements, comments, and, a bit worryingly, jokes bouncing about regarding it. So what's actually going on?

What we know

Adam Johnson was arrested on Monday morning at his home in relation to allegations of sexual activity with a minor. He was questioned or 'helped officers with their enquiries', if you rather, before later being released.

Sunderland, in the meantime, have suspended him pending the outcome of the police investigation.

It is important to note, however, that, at the time of writing, he has NOT been charged with anything.

What we don't know

Well, and it's a biggie, the main thing we don't know is whether or not he is guilty or, in fact, has done anything wrong at all. Every single piece of coverage you read or hear will be very careful to contain the word 'alleged' or 'suspicion' and fans should be careful of what they say on social media too at this stage.

In fact, we don't really know very much at all. Basically, if it isn't in the 'what we know section', it's a bit up in the air at the moment.

Should Sunderland have backed him?

Well, Sunderland will be backing him. There is some outrage about in some quarters claiming the club should have upheld the principles of innocent-until-proven-guilty and not suspended him, but they also need to protect themselves.

It wasn't the club who put themselves in this position and they have to be careful. Suspending Johnson at this stage, whether he is ultimately guilty or innocent, is simply standard procedure and the smart thing to do.

They have hardly forsaken him, though. We can be confident he'll be receiving the support and legal help he needs and hopefully it can be cleared up quickly.

What has the coverage been like?

Pretty much as you'd expect. Newspapers - people who actually understand media law and have governing bodies to answer to - are tiptoeing around the story being very careful with their wording, but it's front page news for most of the tabloids and locals and back page news everywhere else.

Curiously, Johnson has suddenly not only found himself back in the England team over the last two days, but he's also now their 'star' player too. The headlines are sensationalist, the narrative dramatic. The Mail even dug out a photo of Johnson meeting Kate Middleton from somewhere and for some reason, presumably to try and demonstrate just how far this horrible fiend has wormed his way unseen into the very fabric of the nation.

It's all pretty brutal. About as brutal as you'd expect these days.

What happens next?

We could probably add this to the 'what we don't know' section. Just have to wait for further developments really. It may fizzle out to nothing with the police deciding there is no case to answer, or it could get messier. Hopefully, either way, it won't drag on.

If, and it's a huge if, the allegations are proven to have foundation, it's obviously a very serious matter. However, the time for condemnations isn't really now. It's probably best to ignore the sensationalism and temptation to comment too strongly until more details emerge.

It's always worth remembering that the list of footballers accused of serious criminal offences is considerably longer than the list of those convicted or even charged, so probably best to take a step back from it and retain an open mind for the time being.