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Wigan to sack jailed striker King

Marlon King
King will be left without a club once he has served his sentence

Wigan chairman Dave Whelan says Marlon King will never play for the club again after he was jailed for 18 months.

The striker, 29, was found guilty of sexual assault and actual bodily harm after he had been "cold-shouldered" by a female student in a London nightclub.

The incident occurred last December while he was on loan at Hull.

Whelan told BBC Radio 5 live: "We will now be in the process of severing his contract. To say the least I am really, really disappointed."

Whelan, who only learned on Tuesday that King was on trial at Southwark Crown Court, must follow Premier League rules and pay the player's wages for 14 days before terminating his contract.

The Latics chairman went on: "It's really upsetting and it just sets such a bad example for any youngster coming through who wants to be a professional footballer.

"He was on loan at the time to Hull City but I don't blame Hull City. Marlon King has got to accept full responsibility for this."

After groping and punching his victim at the Soho Revue Bar, breaking her nose, King briefly returned to Hull before spending a subsequent spell on loan at Middlesbrough in January.

The father of three, born in Dulwich, south London, finally made his way back to Wigan in the summer, but is now left without a club.

In 2002 King, who lives in Hertfordshire, served five months of a two-year prison sentence for handling a stolen car before being released on appeal.

A year later, he was convicted for common assault on two women he chased through London with a belt wrapped round his fist. And in 2006 he was convicted of threatening behaviour after slapping another woman and then spitting at her when police arrived.

Whelan explained how King had kept the club in the dark about the most recent, and most severe misdemeanour.

"It's been kept quite secret by the player. We knew he did something but we didn't know exactly what it was. When you read how serious it was, I mean striking a girl and breaking her nose and messing about like that, we didn't realise the severity of what was happening here.

Marlon King
The jury returned a 10-2 majority guilty verdict against King

"We knew he'd been charged with something but I was shocked by what he had actually done and I was shocked by the sentence. But if he deserves it then he's got to do it.

"I sat down with Marlon at the start of the season and said 'Marlon, if you want to play for Wigan Athletic you've got to settle down, train hard and go on the field and give your best.'

"He never mentioned anything about this case and he promised me that he was going to train hard and he actually has trained hard, I have to say that.

"Once he's served his sentence, if he manages to get back into football, so be it, but he will never pull on the shirt of Wigan Athletic again."

However, King's agent Tony Finnegan, the former Crystal Palace pro, said the player was certain to find employment with another club after serving his sentence.

Finnegan told BBC Radio 5 live: "He has rights as a professional athlete. When you are a footballer you want to play football.

Let's say he does his time and comes out afterwards. Do you expect him to work for McDonalds? Someone - you trust me on this - will sign him to score goals

King's agent Tony Finnigan

"Let's say he does his time and comes out afterwards. Do you expect him to work for McDonald's? Someone - you trust me on this - will sign him to score goals, because that's what he does best.

"He'll be devastated sitting in a cell with someone tonight. This ain't a movie, this is real life. No-one expected this."

Chris Powell, chairman of the Professional Footballers Association, told the BBC: "There is a process and Dave Whelan has made it clear that is a process he will follow, in that Marlon will be given formally 14 days' notice.

"Like any other player he will be given the right of appeal. The grounds Wigan will probably be pursuing is bringing the club into disrepute and gross misconduct, and I think that will be seen to be the case."

Bobby Barnes, deputy chief executive of the PFA, added: "The clubs rules would say that this constitutes gross misconduct.

"He's been convicted of a criminal offence and most right-minded people would find it difficult not to constitute that as gross misconduct so I think they would be on firm ground to make that decision."

King, a Jamaica international, started his professional career with Barnet, before moving to Gillingham.

He next signed for Nottingham Forest, who briefly loaned him out to Leeds United, before making his Premier League debut with Watford in the 2006-07 season.

In January 2008, he made his move to Wigan for an initial £3m on a three-and-a-half year contract with a £40,000-a-week salary.

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see also
Footballer jailed for sex assault
29 Oct 09 |  London
Wigan's King makes Boro loan move
22 Jan 09 |  Middlesbrough
King completes loan move to Hull
14 Aug 08 |  Hull
King relishing Premiership chance
22 May 06 |  Watford

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