Football After A Conviction: Will Adam Johnson Ever Play Again?

Photo: Adam Johnson.
Photo: Adam Johnson. PA Images

Former Sunderland footballer, Adam Johnson, has been found guilty of one count of sexual activity with a 15-year-old and cleared of another.

The 28-year-old admitted grooming a 15-year-old girl and sexual activity with the teenager, relating to kissing her in his Range Rover, but denied the two more serious charges of sexual activity with a child – one involving oral sex and another involving digital penetration. He was found guilty of the latter charge.

Over the years, there have been a number of players who have had a run ins with the law with varying outcomes. Some have managed to continue their career but some seen the word of football turn their backs on them. 

Here are five players that have been found guilty of committing crimes and how their career panned out after it:

Graham Rix: In March 1999 Rix was charged with having sex with an underage girl and indecent assault. Prior to his arrest and court hearing, he was assistant manager at Chelsea the FA cup in ‘97 and the League cup in 1998.

He was sentenced to 12 months in prison, however only served six.

Upon his release, Rix walked straight back into the job he had held at Chelsea before his arrest. The only difference was, was that he was not allowed to work with young players under the age of 16.

Jermaine Pennant: In 2012 Pennant was arrested for drink driving, however it was revealed, he shouldn’t have been in the car at all. A year prior to this incident, he was disqualified from driving and not having insurance after being involved in a crash.

The judge ruled he was to serve a 90 day prison sentence however he opted to only serve 30 and wear an electric tag around his ankle for 60 days. This was while he was playing for Birmingham City and the tag was clearly visible around his left ankle during a couple of games.

The conviction hasn’t put any clubs off as he has since been to a string of Premier League clubs.

Joey Barton: The former Newcastle United midfielder is known for being troublesome on and off the field. His red card against Manchester City is probably his most notable on the field incident.

However, Barton has been brought in front of the judge twice, both relating to assault.

Firstly in 2007, Barton then received a four month suspended sentence after admitting causing actual bodily harm to his former team mate Ousmane Dabo during a training ground disagreement.

The one year later he was charged with common assault and affray after an altercation in Liverpool. He was released only 77 days into his 6 month prison sentence.

After this, Barton had spells at Newcastle United, QPR, Marselle and Burnley. Similar to Rix, the footballing world welcomed Barton straight back into the game.

Ched Evans: One of the most recent high profile court cases, is Ched Evans.

The former Sheffield United striker was convicted in 2012 of raping a 19-year-old woman in a hotel.

He was sentenced to 5 years imprisonment but was released in October 2014 however still has to remain on the violent and sex offender register indefinitely.

Unlike the other two, football turned its back on Evans upon his release. Oldham Athletic thought about the possibility of signing him however following threats to staff and their families, they quickly changed their stance and decided against signing the former Wales international.

Evans is still trying to clear his name and maintains his innocence. On March 2 2016, it was announced that Evans’ appeal case is to be heard on March 22 2016. If he clears his name, there is still no guarantee that any clubs in the football league will take him on.

Luke McCormick: Back in 2008, the former Plymouth Argyle Keeper, whilst coming home from a wedding, McCormick was involved with a crash, which killed two young boys and seriously injured their father.

He was charged with two counts of causing death by dangerous driving and driving with excess alcohol in his blood.

He was handed a seven year prison sentence but only served four. Plymouth suspended his contract one month later by mutual consent but that wasn’t the end of McCormick’s footballing career.

Before he was released Swindon Town offered him a trial period when he was free. However, they did not offer a contract after the trial. McCormick went to conference team Truro City on a non-contract basis and after only 11 games, he was back in the football league. Oxford City offered him a contract which he accepted.

In May 2013, McCormick re-signed for Plymouth Argyle and was given the captain’s armband for the start of the 2014/15 season. He is still playing for them.


It is still unclear how the football world will react to Johnson after he has served the sentence. There is always the potential that a club could do similar to what Swindon done with Luke McCormick and offer him a trail before he is even out of prison but there is the chance that football league won’t want involved with them again.

Do you think celebrities are let off too easy when it comes to arrests, sentencing and charging?

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