A SUNDERLAND AFC star has been slapped with a six-month driving ban after nipping to the bookies.
Fans’ player of the season Phil Bardsley was ordered to appear before city magistrates after racking up nine penalty points and facing another charge.
Police spotted the 25-year-old defender’s Range Rover illegally parked on zig-zag lines approaching a zebra crossing in Newbottle Street, Houghton, on March 18.
Bardsley, of East Rainton, would normally have been asked to plead to the offence by letter, but had to attend court as he faced a ban under the points totting-up system.
Defending, Geoff Rogers said: “He has nine points on his driving licence, as a result of three separate speeding offences.
“They were all fixed penalty notices, but all in a relatively short period of time and the oldest of those is now off.”
He added that had the offence been committed six days later, Bardsley would not have fallen foul of the totting-up system.
The court heard that Bardsley – a £2million signing from Manchester United in January 2008 – had been to the Co-op to buy food, then drove to a bookmakers to collect his winnings from a horse race.
Bardsley pleaded guilty. Mr Rogers said: “There were pedestrians about and there were other road users about.
“We all know how dangerous it can be to leave a vehicle next to a pedestrian crossing in the centre of town.
“If this is not a bad case of leaving a vehicle on a pedestrian crossing, I don’t know what is.”
However, Mr Rogers asked magistrates to be lenient on the star, who lives with his partner and two-year-old son.
He said Bardsley’s partner has a nine-year-old daughter who she takes to school in North Yorkshire early every morning, leaving him to take and collect their son from nursery.
“Clearly any length of disqualification would have an effect on his family,” he added.
Chairman of the bench Thomas Eastick gave Bardsley a six-month ban and £900 fine.
He told him: “You showed total disregard for pedestrians and other road users and this is also aggravated by your previous road traffic offences.”
He said the actual fine should have been around £10,000, based on Bardsley’s weekly income of £31,000, but it was not within the magistrates’ powers to impose this.