In a bizarre post-match episode, the newspaper banned by Mike Ashley, The Telegraph, have been forced to issue an apology to Adam Johnson after the derby match.
In addition, The Telegraph have paid a sum of damages to charity – the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.
Following the match, the newspaper claimed that when celebrating his goal, Adam Johnson was potentially ‘making a spiteful and provocative reference’ towards Liam Sweeney and John Alder, who lost their lives in the MH17 tragedy.
The Telegraph went on to say that even if Adam Johnson didn’t mean any offence, he should still apologise because this is how his behaviour would be perceived.
This is what The Telegraph originally wrote:
‘Some claimed the former England international was making a spiteful and provocative reference to the two Newcastle supporters who died when a Malaysia Airlines Flight was shot down over Ukraine last year.
Johnson should apologise for any offence caused, even if was not intended as it was perceived.’
I must admit that a lot of things went through my mind during that match and especially the happenings just before half-time.
However, never once did it occur to me that there was anything untoward in Adam Johnson’s behaviour and I never heard a single other Newcastle fan suggest this either.
Little wonder that The Telegraph have realised just how badly they got this wrong, whether or not representatives of Adam Johnson/Sunderland had been in touch or not.
The Telegraph publishing the following:
‘Adam Johnson – an apology
In an earlier version of this report, we included the accusation that Adam Johnson had goaded Newcastle’s supporters with an aeroplane celebration after he scored his goal, which we suggested was a reference to the two Newcastle supporters who died when on the crashed Malaysia Airlines flight over Ukraine, last year.
We now accept that there was absolutely nothing in the goal celebration which could be sensibly taken to have been a reference to these tragic deaths. We apologise unreservedly to Mr Johnson and have agreed to pay a sum of damages to the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.’