A footballer convicted of punching a referee on his debut for a new team has escaped a lifelong ban from the game.
Thetford Town striker Roy Bevis hit match official Andrew Chapman after he was given a red card on his first competitive game for the club.
Last month, the 24-year-old, who wrestles professionally using the name the Zebra Kid and has a history of violent offences, was given a suspended sentence, community service and a fine after pleading guilty to assault.
On Wednesday, he faced a Norfolk County Football Association disciplinary hearing.
Today the association announced Mr Bevis, of St Peter’s Street, Lowestoft, would face a 217-day suspension, part of this being for the violent conduct against an opposition player that led to his red card. He was also fined £175.
Richard King, football administration officer, said: “It is true that Mr Bevis could have been banned for life. The option was open to the commission if they felt it was serious enough.
“The hearing was conducted behind closed doors so the reasons behind this decision cannot be given.
“All I can say is an experienced panel made this judgement and they will have considered all the relevant issues.”
The incident on August 13 occurred in a Ridgeons League Division One match away to Stowmarket.
He was shown the red card after kicking a defender and then punched the referee in the jaw. The game was halted for about 20 minutes and Thetford went on to lose 3-0.
At the earlier court hearing Mr Bevis’s solicitor Chris Brown said he had been trying to get back into the game after a period of inaction and was earning small amounts from his performances.
When shown the red card he had lashed out because “he knew he had blown it”.
Mr Bevis has already been told he will not play for Thetford Town again and the club’s chairman Michael Bailey told the EDP: “I believe he will no longer play football.”