Steve Gerrard, the Liverpool and England footballer, has been charged with assault and affray after an incident at a Merseyside nightclub and restaurant in the early hours of Monday morning, and may face a ban of up to three matches.
Gerrard, 28, from Formby, is alleged to have taken part in a prolonged and sustained attack on a 34-year-old man at the Lounge Inn in Southport. Six other men have also been arrested.
Earlier reports that the incident occurred after a dispute about an unpaid bill, have proved innaccurate.
Gerrard is the current Liverpool captain, and has led the Reds to the top of the Premier League with several stunning and match-winning performances this season. It will be a blow to manager Rafa Benitez if his star player receives a ban fom the authorities for his indiscretion, but the FA have said they are "determined to stamp out the kind of behaviour that has become all-too-common amongst some of today's overpaid stars".
Chelsea's Ivory Coast striker Didier Drogba also received a three-match ban for throwing a coin at Burnley fans, and Gerrard can expect a similar punishment.
Gerrard was released by Merseyside Police late last night, and was driven home by a man who looked a bit like his father, who might have told journalists:
"He's gutted. He feels ashamed and very miserable about the whole incident. He realises how much his great presence means to Liverpool fans, and to their title challenge, and he very much regrets his actions. He hopes the FA will look upon his case with a degree of leniency, and fine him, rather than giving him a ban.
As for the bloke he assaulted, who cares?"