Date: 23rd July 2006 at 1:42pm
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Orient skipper John Mackie was handed a four match ban earlier in the week by the Football Association and Vital Football`s Jay Masters is less than impressed by the F.A. and their heavy handed punishment.

Sometimes when it comes to the Football Association you can only laugh because otherwise you`ll only start to cry. The realisation that Orient will, pending an appeal, be deprived of their inspirational captain for the opening four matches of the season has come as a great shock to many, which has now been replaced by a real sense of resentment. It`s a ridiculous state of affairs that concludes that had John Mackie decided to punch an opponent and in turn cause physical harm to that player, he still would have got a lighter sentence than he has received for registering his disgust at being drug tested whilst his team mates celebrated promotion.

Although Mackie has admitted the charges, it seems wholly unjustified for the F.A to hand him such a severe ban under the circumstances. Mackie, like any reasonable player, would have been upset at having to miss celebrations, celebrations that his performances alone have warranted. Although condoning Mackie`s actions are out of the question, it is a punishment that does not fit the crime.

For example, Zinedine Zidane`s head butt in the World Cup final, watched by millions around the world was treated with a lesser punishment than a player of a League One club, behind closed doors. It makes little sense to make such an example of John Mackie, but that is the prerogative of the F.A. Alan Shearer can get away with kicking Neil Lennon in the head, but a lower league player will always be strung up before the F.A. Mackie did not harm anybody, nor did he inflict physical abuse and yet he is severely punished.

The double standards that are so prevalent in the English domestic game only make a mockery of the F.A.`s ability to govern the game. At a time when the F.A. has once again been accused of mismanagement over the National team, they have managed to shoot themselves in the foot within their domestic leagues. Ultimately, however, is the rather sad realisation that the Football Association do not really care about clubs such as Orient as long as the Premier League continues to entertain.

The suspension of John Mackie could hit Orient hard, but Martin Ling and Mackie himself will know that the O`s are more than capable of fighting. In a perverse way, the sentence might serve to galvanise a side that is already confident following last season`s success. Though any success that comes Orient`s way this season will be as a result of hard work and endeavour, with little thanks to the F.A.