Dundee FC officials have pledged to stand by midfielder Paul McGowan in the wake of his third conviction for police assault.
The 27-year-old was spared jail during an appearance at Airdrie Sheriff Court, instead being subjected to a restriction of liberty order that confines him to his home between 7pm and 7am for 16 weeks.
McGowan had previously admitted assaulting a police officer and breach of the peace.
He will have to wear a tag and hispunishment will rule him out of evening fixtures including next week’s midweek clash with his former club Celtic.
The court heard McGowan “charged toward” two police officers who attended a disturbance at Wheatholm Street in Airdrie in the early hours of November 23 last year, and later threatened to kill them.
He subsequently kicked another officer on the body as his arrest was beingprocessed at Coatbridge Police Station.
It was McGowan’s third such conviction for assaulting a police officer.
While a St Mirren player he wassentenced to 130 hours of unpaid work and handed a one-year supervision order after he admitted kicking two officers.
But Sheriff Derek O’Carroll spared him jail after hearing he had instigated regular counselling through PFA Scotland, the players’ union, in addition to social work sessions.
His solicitor Liam O’Donnell told the court that social work reports “finally give some indication that the accused is getting it in terms of his offending”.
Mr O’Donnell added: “He was not in any trouble from the age of 16 to 23. At age 23 he separated from his partner. The reasonhe separated has been attributed to an underlying gambling problem.
“This gambling problem seems to be the root of his offending.When he takes alcohol his anger about the gambling problem seems to come out through aggression.”
Mr O’Donnell revealed the player was undergoing voluntary counselling each week through the Paisley-based RCA Trust, which helps people with alcohol andgambling addictions.
“He is fully supported by his club,” he added.“The managing director of DundeeFootball Club (John Nelms) is present in court to indicate his support because he is addressing matters.”
After listening to the address, Sheriff O’Carroll reminded McGowan of theprevious occasions he had been convicted of offences.
“And here you are again facing similar charges,” the sheriff said.“It’s quite correct to say that you are on the cusp of custody and certainly that’s in the thoughts of the court.”
However, he proceeded to sentence McGowan to the tagging order, provided he continues with the counselling.
“If you breach the order you will be brought back here and I have already advised you what the outcome will be,” the sheriff added.
Mr Nelms, who was accompanied in court by players including captain James McPake, declined to answer questionsoutside court.
McGowan also declined to comment but Mr O’Donnell said: “He is relieved with the outcome and he knows he needs to modify his behaviour. He appreciates the support of his club and others.”
A statement from Dundee FC outlined the club’s support for the popular player.
It read: “The club does not condone the behaviour which has led to this and wouldn’t from any member of our staff. We fully respect the decision made by the court and Dundee FC will be standing by the player.
“Paul is an integral part of the club and we will be working alongside the PFA with him as he bids to positively resolve hisoff-the-field issues.
“With the support of the manager, his team-mates and club staff, we hope Paul will be able to move forward and be part of another successful season next year at Dens Park. The club will be making no further comment on the matter.”