A FORMER playboy footballer has pleaded “exceptional hardship” to hang on to his driving licence after being caught speeding.
Ex-Scotland striker Frank McAvennie, pictured, was captured by a speed camera doing 36mph in his Jaguar at Tunstall Bank, Ryhope, Sunderland.
Glasgow-born McAvennie already had nine points on his licence and faced a driving ban.
At an exception hardship hearing yesterday, Sunderland magistrates heard how the 52-year-old’s new business as a football agent would fail without him behind the wheel.
The firm, which has six employees, is based in Falkirk and McAvennie travels around the country speaking to players.
Solicitor Gerry Armstrong said: “He finds players in his country or abroad, if he can, and tries to find them a contract.
“It is not something you or I could do, because players want to speak to players or ex-players.”
Mr Armstrong added his client did charity work in Scotland, where he won five caps as a professional footballer.
McAvennie told the court he earned about £13,000 a year from the firm he ran with a business partner and could not afford to employ a driver.
He admitted football was a “different world”, saying: “I go and speak to footballers, go to football grounds, try to persuade them away from previous agents and get them into our employment.
“It took three years to build up and we are so close to becoming one of the big companies.
“I know the clubs, I know the managers and without my expertise, the company could not do it.
“I cover all of England and Scotland. I can get a telephone call from a player saying they want to speak to me and I have to travel to Bristol.
“Without a car it would be horrible. I just could not do it.”
He said: “In Scotland I could do charity work every day if I wanted, but I pick and choose and still do three or four a month.
“It keeps me in the public eye in Scotland and it is good to get players along there in a relaxed situation and they could sign for the company.
“When I was playing football I was made to do it, but now I enjoy it.”
Chairman of the bench John Scott ruled McAvennie could keep his licence, which will be endorsed with three points and fined him £80, with £30 towards court costs.
In his heyday McAvennie, of Low Fell, Gateshead, was a striker with a top goalscoring record, with West Ham United and Celtic.
A celebrity in the mid-1980s, off the pitch he was a regular at London nightclubs and on the front pages of the tabloids.
He became labelled a playboy after a string of glamorous girlfriends and partying with pop stars.