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Tuesday, April 8, 2008
Mariners prepare for Vukovic appeal

By Liam FitzGibbon

Central Coast will consider taking their case to world sport's highest appeal body if they are unsuccessful in having goalkeeper Danny Vukovic's lengthy ban reduced on Thursday night.

Vukovic will front Football Federation Australia's (FFA) independent appeals committee in Sydney for his second appeal against a nine-month ban for man-handling referee Mark Shield.

The player was red-carded in the A-League grand final loss to Newcastle after hitting Shield on the arm when a late penalty appeal was turned down.

He faced a charge of violent conduct and was banned for 15 months, six of which were suspended.

The Mariners appealed the original sentence to FFA but only managed to have his probationary period reduced with the core suspension remaining.

But the club has opted to mount another appeal and if unsuccessful again, have not ruled out a visit to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

"It will depend on what the reasons were why we were unsuccessful, but there is still that one last opportunity there," Mariners executive chairman Lyall Gorman said of a possible CAS appeal.

"You don't just march in to that particular forum, you've got to go there with very strong and firm grounds.

"So it will depend on what the judgement is and how it reads, but certainly we haven't discounted it."

Gorman said the Mariners would take a fresh approach into the hearing, hoping that a new panel would form a different view on the punishment handed out to Vukovic.

Under the current penalty imposed by FFA, Vukovic will not be eligible to play in the A-League until November 24.

The `keeper, an Olyroos regular during qualifying, is also almost certain to miss the Olympics if the ban is upheld.

But the club has not given up hope of their player representing his country in Beijing.

"We'd be very hopeful of getting a reduction that will hopefully see Danny eligible to play for the Australian Olympic team," Gorman said.

"I think he's still pretty fragile and quite shattered at the potential to miss the Olympics.

"He will also miss a very large percentage of the A-League season and you just don't walk back on to a football field after being out of the game for that long.

"It would virtually be his season gone, which takes him right out of the window of the Olympics, out of the shop front for overseas clubs and probably sends him way back as well in terms of his core national Socceroos aspirations."

Gorman said while Vukovic was reluctant to put himself through the stress of further appeals, both he and the club were committed to exploring every possible avenue.

"We just want to do the best we can for the game, the player, the club and in this case the country in terms of the Olympics," Gorman said.

"He's a tremendous young man, a great ambassador for the game, an outstanding footballer and ambassador for his country and we're still very strongly of the view the penalty in the circumstances is harsh.

"We'll leave that to a fresh panel and we welcome that opportunity."

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