'Once the first gay footballer comes out, others will follow' - Chris Sutton
Chris Sutton feels the time is right for gay footballers to come out.
The former Celtic striker has disagreed with FA Chairman Greg Clarke, who claimed yesterday that openly gay players would receive "significant abuse".
Clarke stated recently: "I would be amazed if we haven't got gay players in the Premier League and I am personally ashamed they don't feel safe to come out."
However, Sutton - who has vast Premier League experience - has refuted Clarke's claims.
"Once the first gay footballer comes out, others will follow," Sutton claimed, in quotes reported by the BBC.
"There has never been a better time for a footballer to come out and say 'I am gay'.
"It will be the best thing that happens to the homophobia debate.
"I'm convinced 99.9% of people would share the same view ('good on you, but do I care?'), so are we now setting the levels based on how the 0.1% would react?
"Home fans would be supportive of a player, some away supporters wouldn't."
Sutton also feels that any gay player would receive "unwavering support" from their team-mates.
Former Aston Villa and West Ham midfielder Thomas Hitzlsperger revealed his sexuality after he'd finished playing in England, but no Premier League player has ever openly come out as gay while playing in the top flight.