Arsenal ban player's mother over 'assault' on official
Arsenal have banned the mother of one of their most promising young players from the club after she appeared to hit Arsene Wenger's chief negotiator, Dick Law, and allegedly threatened to drag her son off the pitch during an under-21s game.
Police were called to Arsenal's London Colney training ground last month and arrested the mother of Ainsley Maitland-Niles on suspicion of assaulting two people, although no further action was taken.
A member of the Arsenal ground staff and another man accused Jule Niles of assault, but Law was also apparently struck following a meeting about the player.
Maitland-Niles this season became the second youngest player to represent Arsenal in a Champions League game, when he replaced Aaron Ramsey against Galatasaray in December, aged 17 years 102 days.
Four days later, the midfielder made his Premier League debut in the 4-1 victory against Newcastle United, and played as a substitute against Hull City in the FA Cup. Maitland-Niles has trained with Wenger's first-team squad on several occasions and has represented England at under-17 and under-18.
Niles was arrested on suspicion of assault, but was released without charge. Arsenal told her that she could no longer enter the club's London Colney training base.
Despite her ban, players, family members and spectators were astonished to see Niles turn up for the Arsenal Under-21 fixture against Aston Villa last Friday in which Maitland-Niles played. Witnesses claim that Niles became aggressive, shouting from the touchline and threatening to enter the pitch and drag her son out of the game. Stewards intervened, but the police were again called and this time the mother received a warning. Arsenal lost the match 3-1.
An injury prevented Maitland-Niles being involved in the next under-21 game, against West Bromwich Albion on Tuesday, and the incidents involving his mother have not changed Arsenal's positive attitude towards him. Maitland-Niles is described as being a highly rated footballer and a polite and hard-working individual. He is well liked by club staff and both youth and senior players.
Law's role at Arsenal is similar to a director of football and he has helped to negotiate some of the biggest and most successful deals in the club's recent history. Having started work for Arsenal as a scout in South America, Law helped to take Gilberto Silva and Carlos Vela to the club before formalising his present role in 2009.
Law has since negotiated with Real Madrid officials over the record £42.5m signing of Mesut Ozil, and dealt with Barcelona chiefs last summer to help with the signing of Alexis Sanchez. He is helping Wenger with Arsenal's end-of-season transfer plans.
When contacted in an effort to put the allegations to Niles, a spokesman for Maitland-Niles refused to comment.
Along with Gedion Zelalem and Stefan O'Connor, the performance of Maitland-Niles against Galatasaray drew praise from Ramsey, who said: "We came here with a few players making their first-team debuts and they did great. It was really nice to see some of the 17-year-olds making their debuts and I was really pleased for them. This club is all about promoting younger players with talent."
Gary Lineker has complained previously about parental behaviour. "The competitive nature of most mums and dads is astounding," the former England striker said. "We need a parental cultural revolution."
The FA respect programme, aimed at parents and carers in all grassroots football, was designed to improve conduct on the touchline, promote positive role models and keep young people in the game. (© Daily Telegraph, London)