Richard Heathcote - Getty Images
The FA has released its written findings into the John Terry case and they're unhappy reading for the Chelsea captain and his cohort. The BBC's excerpted some of the more damning passages, so we'll follow their lead:
His repetition of words that Mr Terry claims were said to him first by Mr Ferdinand is implausible if they were really intended to be a robust denial.
A much more plausible and likely explanation is that Mr Terry was angry; angry at Mr Ferdinand's taunting and provocation of him, angry at the way the match had gone, and angry at the way in which it seemed likely to end. The much more likely explanation for what he said is that all of this provoked him into saying [the words].
We have watched the film footage many times.
In the critical phase, during which he uses the words, Mr Terry can be seen to be smiling initially, before his facial expression changes to disdainful and contemptuous.
At no point is his demeanour and facial expression that of someone who is imploring, injured, or even quizzical in the face of an unfounded allegation by Mr Ferdinand that he had just been racially abusive towards him.
Anger is a conceivable reaction to such an accusation, but at no time does Mr Terry convey any sense of 'no, I didn't' with his facial expression, or body language.
The FA have clearly followed Chief Magistrate Howard Riddle's lead here, but their standards for proof don't match the court's 'beyond a reasonable doubt', hence the guilty verdict while Terry was acquitted over the summer. The parade of character witnesses claiming that Terry's not a racist have managed to convince the FA into issuing a statement to that effect, which will do him approximately not much good at all.
The lawyer's preparing Terry's defence will be heartened by the prospect of appeal raised in particular by one specific clause in the FA's books:
Where the subject matter of a complaint or matter before the Regulatory Commission has been the subject of previous civil or criminal proceedings, the result of such proceedings and the facts and matters upon which such result is based shall be presumed to be correct and the facts presumed to be true unless it is shown, by clear and convincing evidence, that this is not the case.
That's fertile grounds for some legal wizardry, so don't expect this to go away just yet. One further point to note -- the FA did explain why Luis Suarez received eight games for a similar offence last year and Terry only got four this time around -- it had to do with the repetition of the insult. Well ok then.