Wed 20 Mar 2024, 13:59 · Ash Harrison

'No respect': Paul Merson speaks out on the 10-month ban handed to Newcastle's Sandro Tonali

'No respect': Paul Merson speaks out on the 10-month ban handed to Newcastle's Sandro Tonali
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Former England and Arsenal forward Paul Merson famously battled alcohol and gambling addiction as a player and post-retirement.

The 56-year-old Sky Sports pundit has been very vocal about additions in sport over the years and was one of the first to speak up when Newcastle United star Sandro Tonali was slapped with a 10-month international ban for breaching gambling rules in Italy.

Merson has once again been speaking out on the subject on the Sacked In The Morning podcast where he's condemned the actions of the footballing authorities for handing out bans instead of offering help to players who need it.

He also pointed out the blatant hypocrisy in the game which is something that definitely needs addressing.


Paul Merson has called out the authorities for simply handing out bans

When Tonali's ban was confirmed by the club, it was announced via the official website and at the bottom of the page, directly below the announcement were the logos of the club's partners, several of which were betting firms.

This is exactly what Merson has called out in his latest dig at the way addiction is handled in sport.

"People have no respect for the gambling addiction.

"We've seen that with the bans of Sandro Tonali at Newcastle and Ivan Toney at Brentford.

"To give people 10-month bans for an addiction that is ravaging football, with sponsorships all over the shirts... They needed help and I don't think 'help' is giving them 10-month bans.

"We underestimate this addiction. We need to show it some respect and not, 'oh, show a bit of willpower'. I would say to the people who make these rules up and ban people, 'next time you get diarrhoea, try and stop that with willpower'."

Newcastle can't play Tonali until after next season has started

Newcastle won't be able to field their £55million summer signing until four games into the 2024/25 season thanks to the ban imposed by the Italian Football Federation. Meanwhile, the FA are conducting their own investigation to see if he breached the rules following his move to Newcastle and could then face further punishment.

As Newcastle fans we love to take a swipe at Merson every now and then as he is prone to the occasional outbreak of verbal diarrhoea, but when the man speaks sense we should also highlight that too, and this is definitely one of those times.

Keep fighting the good fight, Merse!