Liverpool defender and Academy product Jon Flanagan was sentenced to community service earlier this week for violently assaulting his girlfriend. After the sentence was handed out, the club made it clear that they were incredibly disappointed in his actions, something that makes their apparent decision to not sever ties with the player incredibly puzzling.
According to the Daily Mail’s Dominic King, Liverpool have informed Flanagan that they will not be terminating his contract, which has five months remaining. The club will still be proceeding with an internal investigation and internal disciplinary action.
Liverpool’s condemnation was a strongly worded one and it was clear that the club found his actions unacceptable and antithetical to their values. So to find out that Flanagan is now expected to stay on for the next five months with no insight into why the club has made this decision, is, to quote the club, likely to be a source of both “disappointment and anger” for many fans.
In the wake of Flanagan’s sentencing there has been some discussion about the possibility that the club might use this case as a teaching tool on domestic violence and assault at the Academy level all the way up to the first team. And I sincerely hope that is the case and that Flanagan — and every other player wearing the liver bird — is held to the high standards that Liverpool have alluded to in their statement condemning his actions in the first place.
But we’ve not yet heard of any plans regarding rehabilitation or education from the club, nor has the club — even when condemning Flanagan — explicitly addressed what the player has been accused of: a horrific and drawn-out assault on his partner. If Liverpool do believe that they can somehow make more of a positive impact on young boys and men by keeping Flanagan on their payroll and at the club, they need to make it clear how exactly that would work — they need to show that his remaining at the club will in fact go hand in hand with trying to address the problem of misogyny in football head on.
Otherwise, the club will have paid little more than lip service to its values.