NEWCASTLE United will today discover whether disgraced Liverpool star Luis Suarez will be free to face them this Saturday at St James’ Park.
The shamed Uruguayan striker has until midday tomorrow to appeal the 10-game ban handed down to him by the FA for biting Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic.
Liverpool are to announce their next move today, and any appeal – which was not ruled out last night – would delay the ban, meaning Suarez in theory could start this weekend’s Premier League match.
Anfield managing director Ian Ayre hinted that the club may decide to fight the length of the ban, which would see an appeal being lodged.
He said: “Both the club and player are shocked and disappointed at the severity of today’s independent regulatory commission decision. We await the written reasons tomorrow before making any further comment.”
Newcastle have been unwittingly caught up in the scandal because they entertain Liverpool just six days after the incident at Anfield that shocked English football.
And former Magpies defender John Beresford insisted his old team would catch a massive break if they didn’t have to face one of the Premier League’s few genuine world-class players in such an important game.
Beresford, speaking yesterday at the Sir Bobby Robson celebrity golf day at Rockliffe Hall, said: “The Newcastle-Liverpool game always has a bit of spice. I was actually going to say bite, but thought better of it.
“The whole Suarez thing is going to add to the occasion. It actually sets this up to be a classic game.
“I don’t think Newcastle will get beaten this weekend and the fact Suarez probably won’t play is a massive help. Liverpool, without him, are such a different team.
“I know they still have some quality players there, but he’s the catalyst. He is world class; one of the best players I have seen in my entire life, and I mean that.
“I was at Anfield earlier this season for the Newcastle game and I remember clearly Enrique smashing the ball long, Suarez running on to it, killing it and then getting past Fabricio Coloccini and Tim Krul.
“That was one of the best goals I have ever seen. It was genius – and what do we say so often about geniuses? That there is a flaw within them, and there is something in that guy’s head that makes him act the way he did.”
In a statement released on Tuesday afternoon, the FA revealed Suarez had accepted a charge of violent conduct, but that he disagreed that the standard three-match suspension for that offence wasn’t sufficient on this occasion.
However, the three-man independent commission yesterday served him with a further seven matches because of the seriousness of his crime.
Beresford, who played more than 200 games for Newcastle at left-back, may not want to see him make an appearance on Saturday, but also does not want to see such a talent leave these shores.
He said: “The guy needs help. I played with plenty of players with a split personality.
“A switch would go off and they would lash out when things weren’t going their way. There have been people talking about banning him for a season or banning him from playing for Liverpool again.
“Give me a break. He is one of the greatest players ever and I want to see him playing in the Premier League.”
The fact remains that a Liver-pool team without Suarez is a far less daunting opposition for Alan Pardew’s United, who could do with a win, not just a draw, against the Merseysiders.
That would take the Magpies to 40 points and on the cusp of Premier League safety.
Beresford said: “I never thought we’d find ourselves in this position after last season. You would have hoped that this fixture would have been for a European place.
“But we are trying to stay up, while Liverpool’s biggest goal is to finish above Everton. So the teams are clashing for different reasons and, when that happens, it can be interesting.
“Newcastle will be desperate to make up for what happened in the last home game, that disaster against Sunderland. The players have been hurting and I know it’s been worse for the fans.
“I am going to put my head on the block and say we won’t go down. But they have got to keep playing until they are safe and I can see Newcastle getting a positive result on Saturday that will take them close to being okay.”