Terry charged

England skipper unwilling to relinquish armband

Chelsea stalwart faces maximum fine of £2,500

CPS confident enough evidence for conviction

CHELSEA skipper John Terry is understood to be determined to hang on to the captaincy of the national side despite the Crown Prosecution Service declaring its intention to charge him with racially abusing QPR’s Anton Ferdinand.

Terry, who has vowed to “fight tooth and nail” to clear his name, will appear in front of magistrates in west London on 1 February to answer a charge of a “racially aggravated public order offence” relating to the match between Chelsea and Rangers in October. If found guilty, he faces a fine of up to £2,500, but not jail.

The step follows months of speculation over whether the Blues skipper would face criminal charges and further threatens his role as leader of the national team, just months before the 2012 European Championships.

Terry said: “I am disappointed with the decision to charge me and hope to be given the chance to clear my name as quickly as possible.

“I have never aimed a racist remark at anyone and count people from all races and creeds among my closest friends. I will fight tooth and nail to prove my innocence. I have campaigned against racism and believe there is no place for it in society.”

Terry has been accused of, and emphatically denied, calling QPR defender Ferdinand “a black c**t” during the Premier League match, which Rangers won 1-0.

CPS chief crown prosecutor for London Alison Saunders said: “I have today advised the Metropolitan Police Service that John Terry should be prosecuted for a racially aggravated public order offence following comments allegedly made during a Premier League football match between Queens Park Rangers and Chelsea on 23 October, 2011. The decision was taken in accordance with the Code for Crown Prosecutors and after careful consideration of all the evidence I am satisfied there is sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction and it is in the public interest to prosecute this case.”

Chelsea pledged to stand by one of their most decorated players, saying in a statement: “John has made it clear he denies the charge and is determined to do all he can to prove his innocence. Chelsea FC has always been fully supportive of John in this matter and will continue to be so.”

Earlier, Blues manager Andre Villas-Boas reiterated his support for Terry, who is expected to play against Tottenham tonight, saying: “We know exactly his human values and personality. They are never in doubt.”

The CPS opened its case after a member of the public contacted police with the allegation against Terry. New evidence, thought to include previously unseen footage, was handed to the CPS last week. The Football Association, which has delayed its own probe into the incident while the criminal process in ongoing, said it would not comment.

It comes a day after the FA banned Liverpool’s Luis Suarez for eight games after finding him guilty of racially abusing Manchester United’s Patrice Evra.