Tuesday 22 October 2019

Richard Keogh faces threat of €2.5m wages loss as alleged details of crash emerge through WhatsApp audio

Richard Keogh has been ruled out for 15 months with a knee injury sustained in the crash
Richard Keogh has been ruled out for 15 months with a knee injury sustained in the crash
Ireland's Richard Keogh. Photo: Sportsfile

Aidan Fitzmaurice and Daniel McDonnell

Richard Keogh's nightmare night out in Derby this week could cost the Ireland defender as much as €2.5million as Rams bosses mull over disciplinary action.

Derby County, struggling with poor form in the Championship this season, will try to focus on football matters today with a game at home to Birmingham City.

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But the whole club has been rocked by the car crash on Tuesday which saw two players charged with drink-driving offences - while club captain Keogh, who was a passenger in one of the cars involved, suffered a serious knee injury which has ended his season.

Derby were highly critical of the players for their behaviour after a sanctioned night out at a local restaurant, a club statement saying the players "continued drinking into the night and should have known when to stop".

Details of the incident emerged yesterday, reportedly from a former team-mate of the Derby players, which claimed that Keogh had been left behind, unconscious, in the back of a second car driven after the crash happened in another vehicle.

"They all left in Mason Bennett's car, they drove to a flat and said 'F***, where's Richard Keogh?'. He was unconscious in the back of the car, they drove back to the place where it happened and he was unconscious," the unnamed player said.

Derby players Tom Lawrence and Mason Bennett are facing charges on drink-driving offences - they are due in court on October 15 - while Keogh, who does not drive, is unlikely to face a police sanction. But the club could decide to take severe disciplinary action against all three, and that could mean having their contracts cancelled.

Keogh only signed a new three-and-a-half-year deal with Derby last year, the Ireland man one of the higher earners reportedly on a basic wage of €30,000 a week due to his status as club captain with Derby - making him one of the highest-paid players in the Championship.

If Derby do decide to terminate Keogh's contract, it could cost the defender €2.5million in lost wages alone, not including bonuses and endorsements. This would be a very heavy penalty on top of missing out on a potential place at Euro 2020 with Ireland.

Yesterday, teenager Callum Dolan was sacked by his club Oldham Athletic just hours after he was jailed for eight months for a driving offence involving a high-speed chase as he tried to evade police.

In 2018, Ireland international Darron Gibson was sacked by Sunderland after he was found guilty of drink driving.

If Lawrence and Bennett - neither of whom will be involved in the game at Pride Park today - are convicted on drink-driving charges they face the prospect of having their contracts terminated.

As Keogh recovers from his season-ending anterior cruciate ligament injury, Derby are assessing their options. And while clubs traditionally agree to continue paying players while they are out injured, Keogh is facing into a nervous time.

The club's initial statement said "those involved in Tuesday's incident know they will pay a heavy price for their actions".

Manager Philippe Cocu has since said: "We [staff] were not present when the players stayed on. Some senior players were and the choice they made was a bad example and there will be consequences."

Former Ireland player Keith Treacy told RTÉ radio that the incident could end Keogh's career - albeit with a pay-off.

"To be honest, I think it's the end. The money men and the business heads in the background will be thinking, 'He is 33, he is not going to play for the rest of the season, let's cut our losses here and get him out of the club and we will save ourselves the guts of £500k'," Treacy told 'Today With Seán O'Rourke' yesterday.

Keogh underwent further medical attention yesterday, visiting a specialist in London. It is still unclear how long he will be out, but it is understood he is working off the belief that he will be able to make full a recovery in around 12 months.

Irish Independent

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