Former Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge will be eligible to kick-start his career at a new club at the beginning of the season despite breaching FA regulations on betting meaning the Englishman has avoided a lengthy ban from football.
Sturridge, 29, has been banned from competitive football for two weeks and has also been fined £75,000 by the Football Association after being on the receiving end of a guilty verdict for providing inside information to his brother towards a potential transfer back in January 2018.
FA to appeal
The ban comes as a surprise and a strike of fortune for Sturridge who was originally deemed to receive a much stronger sanction which could have resulted in an up-to-a six-month immediate ban.
However, the saga isn't over for Sturridge after it was confirmed by the FA that they will indeed appeal the decision towards an Independent Regulatory Panel in the near future.
11 charges were thrown towards Sturridge following the breach of conduct, nine of which have been dismissed since. The FA went on to publish a 25,000 word written an explanation for the charge against the striker and the subsequent verdict in the case.
The statement from the FA read: "6a, 6b and 7-9) concerned alleged breaches of the inside information rule, in that, it was said, Mr Sturridge had provided inside information to friends and family about his possible transfer moves in January 2018, which information had then been used for, or in relation to, betting. Those charges were dismissed by the Regulatory Commission.
“The regulatory commission found proved charges 3 and 4, which alleged that, in that same transfer window, Sturridge had instructed his brother, Leon, to bet on a possible move by him to Sevilla.
“In issuing that instruction, the regulatory commission found that, as a matter of fact, Sturridge had provided his brother with inside information for that purpose.
“By way of sanction, the Regulatory Commission imposed on Sturridge a six-week suspension from participation in any domestic football matches (including friendlies), such suspension being effective from July 17 2019.
“Four weeks of that ban have been suspended until August 31 2020, meaning that Sturridge will be able to resume participating by July 31 2019 in the event he commits no further breaches of FA Rule E8.
“In addition, the Regulatory Commission imposed a fine of £75,000 on Sturridge.
“The FA respectfully disagrees with the regulatory commission's findings and will be appealing against the charges which were dismissed and the sanction which was imposed.”
How the saga occurred
The matter began over 19 months ago in January 2018, when the FA began an insight towards the mechanics of a potential high-profile deal that was proposed to materialise.
It was struck at a period where there was serious speculation towards Sturridge's future on Merseyside with a number of potential suitors varying from Inter Milan, Sevilla, Newcastle United and of course West Brom Albion all interested in the former England international.
The case eventually hung on a knife with the defining factor being whether it could be proven whether Sturridge was providing regular updates to his family and friends regarding his future which then resulted in subsequent bets by said members then taking place.
Sturridge quickly denied such allegations and demonstrated in multiple texts that he was not an advocate for gambling. However, what proved to be the thorn in Sturridge's side was the fact it was proven that he did in-fact instruct his brother Leon to back him ending up with La Liga outfit Sevilla.
The bets that were taken did go on to lose considerable amounts, although, had they been successful, the winning's would have amounted to a staggering £317,000.
The former Manchester City and Chelsea forward is currently a free agent and seeking out his latest footballing venture having been released by Liverpool just days after winning the Champions League final in Madrid.
The fact Sturridge can resume his career without delay from the FA comes at a massive boost, although the governing body have prolonged the case via an appeal.
Sturridge is thought to be considering offers from China, Italy, Spain, France, the USA and also to remain in the Premier League and believes the outcome can now allow him to make an informed decision on his future and potentially begin training in the upcoming weeks.
His former club Liverpool are yet to comment on the scenario with the forward having had his own legal representation throughout the entirety of the legal process.