- Tom Lawrence and Mason Bennett recently pleaded guilty to drink driving
- The pair were handed fines while Richard Keogh was sacked by Derby County
- That led to questions over why Keogh had been dismissed while others were not
- Derby owner Mel Morris tried to explain the decision during an event
Derby County owner Mel Morris has made a bizarre claim about drinking footballers
Tom Lawrence (second left) and Mason Bennett (second right) were not sacked by Derby
But Richard Keogh, who was a passenger in Lawrence’s car, was sacked by Derby recently
Bennett and Lawrence had pleaded guilty to drink driving after crashing their cars on the A6
The Joiners Arms pub in Quarndon where the Derby players were drinking before the crash
Keogh was dismissed by Derby for ‘gross misconduct’ and will not be fit for 15 months
Derby County owner Mel Morris has strangely suggested sacking drinking footballers could be a ‘financial nightmare’ after the incident involving his squad.
Tom Lawrence and Mason Bennett both pleaded guilty to drink driving after crashing cars during a team bonding night out and were handed fines by the Pride Park club.
But captain Richard Keogh, 33, who was a passenger in Lawrence’s Range Rover and suffered a potentially career-threatening knee injury was instead dismissed by Derby after he refused to reduce his wages.
There have since been suggestions that Keogh was let go because he had little in the way of market value due to his age, especially compared to Lawrence and Bennett.
Keogh is planning to appeal the decision and has the backing of the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA), who are planning to ‘robustly defend’ him.
Rams chief Morris has now explained why sacking those who drink could be a problem for a football club.
He told a Derby Telegraph awards night: ‘I was thinking, just stand back and say, so if you had any player, and I will talk hypothetically here, who had been out drinking and you said that automatically you are always going to fire them, the financial implications are a nightmare.
‘But is it punishment in some cases? Because if you were a professional footballer and you knew that if you got drunk I would fire you, you could gain quite easily. Just go and get drunk (host) Gary (Newbon) and I will release you from your contract.
‘You then got to Leeds in January and on a free transfer and you are going to get a £1.5m signing bonus and £500,000 a year more salary. Is that punishment Gary?
‘So it’s not as simple as people think when they think about these issues. And I actually think, in the case of two of the lads, they have to come out and face our crowd every game now and the only way they can improve on this is on the field, that’s all they can do.’
Keogh’s knee injury is expected to rule him out of action for around 15 months and he was sacked by Derby for ‘gross misconduct’.
A statement from Derby said they would not ‘tolerate any of its players or staff behaving in a manner which puts themselves, their colleagues, and members of the general public at risk of injury or worse, or which brings the club into disrepute’.
Lawrence and Bennett were handed sentences on October 15 after admitting drink-driving and failing to stop at the scene of an accident.
Both players were handed a 12-month community order which includes 180 hours of unpaid work, and they also got a two-year driving ban.
Derby’s punishment for Lawrence and Bennett was a fine of six weeks worth of wages and 80 hours of community service and rehabilitation.
The accident occurred after Lawrence’s vehicle collided with the rear of Bennett’s after they drove home from a team bonding evening at The Joiners Arms pub in Quarndon.
Lawrence was carrying two passengers: Keogh and an 18-year-old academy player.
Lawrence and Bennett left the scene before returning 45 minutes later. Police were already at the scene when the pair got back to the wrecked vehicle.
Keogh was abandoned by his two team-mates at the scene of the crash before being rescued by paramedics who found him unconscious.