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Adam Johnson - What's The Latest And Where Do Sunderland Really Stand?

The Adam Johnson situation has reared it's ugly head again and in particularly 'worst case' manner. So what's the latest? Again, just like before, no editorial, just the facts.

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So what's the latest, then?

Adam Johnson has been formerly charged with four offences which are, in the words of Gerry Wareham, CPS Chief Crown Prosecutor for the North East:

One offence of meeting a child following sexual grooming, contrary to Section 15 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 and three offences of sexual activity with a child, contrary to Section 9 of the Sexual Offence Act 2003.

He answered bail, which was originally extended, and Wareham says there is a "realistic prospect of conviction".

That sounds bad, how have Sunderland responded?

The club released a statement this morning, which read:

Following yesterday's statement from Durham Constabulary, the club recognises that the formal legal process must take its course and whilst our position remains unchanged, we will keep the matter under review.

The club will not be making any further comment.

So, as you were basically. No suspension.

Should they have suspended him?

This gets a bit murky here. People will have different opinions and I'm not really interested in writing an editorial here. What is clear is that there are no right answers. Everything is dealing with degrees of damage limitation, not solutions. It's one huge grey area.

We are seeing some people reacting by saying the club unequivocally should have suspended him and anti-rape campaigners have already accused Sunderland of "putting money ahead of morality". But you're on dodgy ground, moralistically speaking, when endorsing a course of action that denies a person their right of innocence until proven guilty.

On the other hand, you can't fully hide behind the innocent until proven guilty line either, because it's such a serious issue with so many social and potential moral responsibilities attached to the club.

It's a judgement call and the club would have divided opinion either way. However, we should probably remember that the club didn't put themselves in the this position. They are reacting to events, and seriously complexed events at that, not creating them.

But they suspended him before...

True, but this just goes to highlight the complexities of the situation. Club policy can only take them so far. There is employment law to consider and the specifics of Johnson's bail conditions would have impact on how much they can do. He evidently hasn't been prevented to carry out his employment under those bail conditions, so it becomes far more complicated.

They suspended him before to consider their options and carry out a proper evaluation, but you can't suspend someone indefinitely.

For all we want to say and believe the club could have done whatever they wanted in response, an employment lawyer and trade union would certainly disagree. In fact, the PFA have already had their say, insisting:

We would emphasise that just like any other individual, Adam is entitled to a fair hearing.

Basically, fans and media should probably avoid making false assumptions about what the club could do whilst presenting what they should have done from a position of idealised morality. That makes for many a moot point proffered.

The biggest point for many is whether or not he should be played, not suspended. However, 'what if he is innocent' is surely just as relevant a question to consider as 'what if he is guilty'.

Where do we go from here?

Well just because Johnson can play doesn't mean he necessarily will. He is in the squad for the Stoke game but Dick Advocaat has stated he is unsure if he'll feature.

We are just where we always have been, really, only with slightly browner trousers. An accusation doesn't mean a conviction and neither does a charge. It could be dropped, thrown out of court, or disproved.

But, but, but...

Yes, it's far from ideal. In fact, it's shit, and no one wants to think about it never mind deal with it. It's not easy to balance not trivialising a deeply serious issue with respecting and protecting an individuals rights.

A lot of people will say this is about money and Premier League survival, but Johnson has played a bit-part role since this kicked off and no one will be relying on his current frame of mind right now.

We are already seeing 'radical feminists' on Twitter condemn the club, but that doesn't even remotely stick considering the amount of women in very high-powered positions at the club. In fact it's plain ridiculous.

The media are having a field day, but they would have anyway.

As I said, it's a shit situation with no right answers and a hugely emotive narrative that no one wants to deal with. That's going to breed conspiracy theories, but they are never helpful to anything.

This is what the legal process and justice system is for - not football clubs or social media. Probably best to just let them get on with it.