Northampton Town striker James Collins has been fined the maximum allowable two weeks’ wages and been warned of his future conduct by the club after he was caught urinating into a glass in a VIP area at the Cheltenham Festival on Tuesday.
The 25-year-old, who is on loan at Sixfields from Shrewsbury Town, has issued an apology for his behaviour, admitting it was ‘not excusable’, and stating ‘I have let myself, my family, the fans, and the two clubs that I represent down and I am sorry to everyone involved’.
Cobblers chairman Kelvin Thomas was quick to condemn Collins for the incident, but also stated they expect to be able ‘to draw a line under this matter and allow James to concentrate on rebuilding his reputation as a professional footballer’.
Collins was caught on camera urinating into a glass, and then depositing the liquid on to the ground in front of the balcony.
He was in a VIP section at Cheltenham, along with Milton Keynes Dons midfielder Samir Carruthers and other footballers.
Carruthers was guilty of the same offence as Collins, and a photographer captured their actions which led to the pictures being published over various media outlets, including the Daily Mail and The Sun.
Collins spoke of his sorrow at what he had done, but also rejected suggestionss in the articles that passers by could have been hit by the liquid.
“I cannot apologise enough for my actions and the pictures from my visit to Cheltenham Races yesterday,” said the Coventry-born player.
“I have completely let myself, my family, the fans, and the two clubs that I represent down and I am sorry to everyone involved.
“My actions are not excusable, and whilst the pictures are rather misleading in that there were not people below this balcony and it was only a grassed area there is still no defence to what happened.
“As a footballer I understand and appreciate that we are role models and this has only emphasised the negative stereotype of the modern footballer, and for that I am truly sorry and disappointed in myself.
“It is now something that I will work hard to change.
“I do feel this is totally out of character and something that has embarrassed me and my family and I fully accept the club’s punishment.
“I will now focus on what I know I am extremely lucky to do for a career and that is to play football.
Chairman Thomas said: “James knows full well of our disappointment in him and fully accepts that his actions have damaged the reputation of the two clubs and football in general.
“We cannot control what players do in their spare time, however we do expect a level of behaviour becoming of being a professional footballer and that has been made very clear to James.
“We feel that he has taken ownership of his actions and is truly sorry for what he has done.
“By firm and swift action, plus James’s contrition, we expect to draw a line under this matter and allow James to concentrate on rebuilding his reputation as a professional footballer.”
Collins’ parent club Shrewsbury Town also criticised the player, with chief executive Brian Caldwell saying: “We are extremely disappointed in James actions which has not only brought down the good name of both Shrewsbury Town FC and Northampton Town FC but also himself and his family.
“The player deeply regrets his actions and realises the consequences of his behaviour.
“Shrewsbury Town FC will not tolerate such behaviour which tarnishes the clubs reputation as a family club within the local community”
Gloucestershire Police are aware of the incident involving Collins and Carruthers, but have confirmed no police action will be taken.
Collins’ apology comes after Carruthers also said sorry after a dressing down from MK Dons chairman Pete Winkelman and manager Karl Robinson.
The striker is due back in training at Sixfields with the rest of the Cobblers squad on Thursday, and is available for selection for Saturday’s Sky Bet League Two trip to Stevenage.