THIS has been a trial unprecedented in its nature. One of the country’s – perhaps even one of the world’s – best known sportsmen hauled before a criminal court over words uttered on a pitch.
Whatever the verdict this afternoon, football’s reputation has already taken a buffering with every four-letter word recited, yet the potential repercussions of the decision are much more grave and far-reaching.
Should Terry be cleared of using a racial insult towards QPR’s Anton Ferdinand, who was a reluctant witness, it is difficult to see the claims affecting the Chelsea captain’s worth to club and country.
But should he be found guilty, Terry will find serious questions raised about his role as skipper, his future at his childhood club and indeed his dream of one day managing the team. An FA probe will also be resumed.
The maximum fine of £2,500 might not bother a player earning 60 times that every week, but the damage to his reputation would pose a far bigger threat to future earnings from sponsors.
Chelsea would be placed in a hugely difficult position, with immense pressure likely to be forthcoming from almost every angle to throw the book at and sack a player now synonymous with the club.
The landscape of football itself might itself also be upset, with a guilty verdict opening the door for other players to level similar accusations with a reasonable expectation it will end up, like Terry, in court.