West Brom boss Alan Pardew has condemned the “unacceptable” behaviour of captain Jonny Evans and the three other senior players who embarrassed the club on a break in Spain.
Evans, Gareth Barry, Jake Livermore and Boaz Myhill identified themselves as the quartet whose behaviour in Barcelona had led to their club promising disciplinary action.
Head coach Pardew refused to comment on reports that the four players were involved in an incident involving a taxi, but it was widely reported they were being investigated over allegedly taking the vehicle without permission at the end of a night out.
Spanish newspaper El Mundo reported the quartet had food at a McDonald’s restaurant before leaving at 5.30am on Thursday morning and taking the taxi in which they had travelled to find food, driving it to their hotel. The newspaper said the players gave a statement to police but were not arrested.
West Brom are picking over the details of the incident, but Pardew was furious that the senior players had all broken a club curfew.
What was intended as a morale-boosting training trip instead became a debacle that was the last thing Pardew, whose side sit bottom of the Premier League, would have wanted.
The players said in a joint statement: “We would like to take this opportunity to apologise to our team-mates, the head coach, the club and especially the supporters for the events which have been the subject of widespread and negative publicity.
“We felt it important we identify ourselves as the players involved in an incident which occurred during the training camp in Spain this week out of respect for team-mates who otherwise could be implicated by association.
“We freely acknowledge and apologise for the break of curfew which we accept represented a breach of the standards of professionalism required of us as representatives of West Bromwich Albion FC.”
The players said they would “co-operate fully” with West Brom’s investigation. It remains to be seen whether they feature on Saturday in the fifth-round FA Cup clash with Southampton at the Hawthorns, and what reaction they receive from supporters should they be involved.
Barry holds the record for the most Premier League appearances by any player, while former Manchester United defender Evans leads the team, Livermore is a current England player and Myhill is a highly-experienced goalkeeper.
Pardew said of the incident: “They break a curfew, and that is unacceptable, and I feel a bit let down by that.”
He added: “We have 11 games left and we are in the last 16 of the FA Cup, and our fans will want to see us put in a performance (on Saturday).”
West Brom earlier this week sacked chairman John Williams and chief executive Martin Goodman.
Asked if he was confident his position was safe, Pardew – appointed in November – said: “I think (with) all these situations, you can’t be certain of your job, you just have to try to do your job, and that is what I will do.”