Daniel Sturridge has requested additional time to answer the Football Association’s misconduct charge.
The Liverpool striker was given until 6pm GMT on Tuesday to respond to claims of multiple breaches of the FA’s strict betting rules, which Goal understands relate to his loan move to West Bromwich Albion back in January.
That deadline passed without Sturridge accepting or denying the charges, and it is understood the England international’s lawyers have asked for longer to prepare their response, believing that eight days – since the charge was made public – is insufficient.
That means the saga will run on towards Christmas, with a new deadline likely to be set for December. Sturridge’s team, it has been reported, were looking for longer.
Liverpool say the 28-year-old has "stated categorically that he has never gambled on football" and insisted that he would continue to cooperate fully with the FA’s inquiry.
The club, Goal understands, are leaving the handling of the matter to Sturridge and his representatives, while it has been reported that the striker has already passed over his mobile phone records to the FA’s integrity team, who are investigating whether he could have passed on information to persons who could then have used that for betting purposes.
Rule E8(1)(b) states that: "where a participant provides to any other person any information relating to football which the participant has obtained by virtue of his or her position within the game and which is not publicly available at that time, the participant shall be in breach of this Rule where any of that information is used by that other person for, or in relation to, betting."
Sturridge has also been charged with breaching FA Rule E8(1)(a), which states: "a participant shall not bet, either directly or indirectly, or instruct, permit, cause or enable any person to bet on – (i) the result, progress, conduct or any other aspect of, or occurrence in or in connection with, a football match or competition; or (ii) any other matter concerning or related to football anywhere in the world, including, for example and without limitation, the transfer of players, employment of managers, team selection or disciplinary matters."
Should Sturridge be found guilty then he faces a sizeable fine and/or lengthy ban.
The likes of Andros Townsend, Martin Demichelis and Dan Gosling were all fined for breaching betting rules, while Joey Barton, the Fleetwood Town manager, was banned from football for 13 months in 2017 after being found to have placed 1,260 bets on the game over a 10-year period.
A ban for Sturridge, whose Liverpool contract expires next summer, would be the worst-case scenario for club and player. The forward has trained as normal at Melwood during the international break, and is available for selection for the Reds’ trip to Watford on Saturday while the investigation is ongoing.
With his future – both short and long-term – shrouded in uncertainty, however, Liverpool may be forced to re-evaluate their January transfer plans.
The club had been willing to let one or both of Dominic Solanke and Divock Origi leave when the window re-opens, but Sturridge’s situation could change that.
Solanke, who has scored four goals for England’s Under-21 side in the past week, is open to the idea of a loan switch having failed to play a single minute for the Reds so far this season. Liverpool have been in discussions with a number of clubs over the prospect of a temporary move.
Origi appeared as a substitute in the recent defeat to Red Star Belgrade, his first appearance for the club in 15 months, but will be sold should Liverpool receive an offer in the region of £20 million ($26m). The Belgian turned down a switch to Wolves in the summer, but the Premier League new boys remain keen.