Top 10 longest suspensions in Premier League history

Some top players over the years who have been out of action and faced lengthy spell on the sidelines.

Though the modern game has become a lot more strict and one cannot get away with things that they could in the past. The clampdown on things like dissent, rash play and other such variables are being clamped down upon. The game is now much more refined than it was a couple of decades ago, there still are players and instances where something has happened that has led the FA to dish out lengthy bans on some of these top flight players over the years.  

Players can end up with long-term suspensions as a result of off-field issue which can range from breaches of betting regulations to the use of prohibited performance-related substances or even non-compliance with scheduled drug tests. The reasons behind significant suspensions in football vary a lot, encompassing a spectrum from violent conduct to drug consumption to involvement in gambling activities. The variety of circumstances  that can lead to substantial time away from the beautiful game shows one has to be on their best behaviour at all times.

Here are the top ten longest suspensions in the Premier League:

10. Ben Thatcher : Manchester City – 8 matches, September 2006

Chappy meets... Ben Thatcher
Ben Thatcher (Credit - Manchester City)

In September 2006, Manchester City’s Ben Thatcher faced the chin music from the EPL for an elbow incident on Portsmouth’s Pedro Mendes, resulting in an initial yellow card during the match. However, post-game, the Football Association (FA) opted that the yellow card was not enough and for good measure decided to up the amp and dish out a harsher punishment handing Thatcher an 8-game ban. Furthermore, his club also imposed a financial penalty, docking  six weeks’ wages as part of the disciplinary action.

9. Luis Suarez : Liverpool – 8 matches, December 2011

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Luis Suarez (Credit - Transfermarkt)

The Liverpool and Uruguay legend who is known to be one of the most lethal forwards of his generation and one of the greatest attackers pre Klopp Era, has often found himself at the center of controversies in his career especially during his time with the reds. In September 2011, following a 1-1 draw against rivals Manchester United, Suarez had to face the heat as he was accused of racially abusing opponent Patrice Evra. Despite Suarez claiming his innocence, the Football Association (FA) conducted a seven-day hearing and ultimately decided to issue an eight-game suspension in December in response to the allegations.

8. David Prutton : Southampton – 10 matches, March 2005

Opposition View: David Prutton
David Prutton (Credit -

Prutton found out the consequences of his actions the hard way when he received a 10-game suspension, with an additional financial penalty £6,000 fine for pushing referee Alan Wiley after being sent off in a game for Southampton against Arsenal in 2005. At that time, this suspension marked the longest served by a Premier League player for physically harming a match official. Following the incident, the Southampton midfielder issued a sincere apology for his actions. Although it did not lessen the damage as he had to endure a ten-match absence from the field.

7. Luis Suarez : Liverpool – 10 matches, April 2013

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Luis Suarez (Credit - Sky Sports)

Featuring for the second time we welcome back our Uruguayan Stalwart who offers bite to any attack he is part of but here he took it a bit too far. In April 2013, controversy surrounded Luis Suarez when he bit Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic on the arm during a match. The incident initially went under the radar by officials, and to add to the drama, the Uruguayan forward scored a crucial last-gasp equalizer in his team’s 2-2 draw with Chelsea.

He received a 10 match ban which effectively ruled  him out for the remainder of that season. Notably, this marked the second of three biting incidents in Suarez’s career.

6. Paolo Di Canio : Sheffield Wednesday – 11 games, September 1998

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Paolo Di Canio (Credit -

Despite achieving cult hero status amongst the fans during his time in the Premier League, Paolo Di Canio’s reputation took a hit in a 1998 match between Sheffield Wednesday and Arsenal. Following a red card being awarded, he forcefully shoved referee Paul Alcock, mirroring Prutton’s actions, causing the official to stumble before Di Canio stormed off the pitch in frustration. The football authorities were outraged by his behaviour, particularly given Di Canio’s status within the sport. As a Consequence of his ill tempered march off, he received an 11-game ban and a £10,000 fine.

5. Joey Barton : QPR – 12 games, May 2012

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Joey Barton (Credit - Sky Sports)

Manchester City’s last game of the season against QPR is a game that has forever etched its place as a premier league classic, primarily for Sergio Aguero’s iconic title-winning goal in the dying embers of the match. In this historic encounter, former Man City player Joey Barton found himself in familiar territory, in the middle of a controversy. Barton was sent off against his ex-club for elbowing forward Carlos Tevez in the head. Losing his temper, Barton made  the situation far worse by kicking Sergio Aguero in the leg and attempting to headbutt Vincent Kompany.

In response to this unsportsmanlike conduct, Barton faced severe consequences, receiving a 12-match ban and a £75,000 fine from the FA. The incident was the only blemish to an otherwise unforgettable and dramatic football moment.

4. Adrian Mutu : Chelsea – 7 months, November 2004

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Adrian Mutu (Credit - Transfermarkt)

Adrian Mutu, a £16 million import from Parma, was initially earmarked as a key player for Chelsea’s future. However, his time with the club was abruptly cut short in November 2004, midway through his second season, when he failed a drug test, testing positive for cocaine.

In response to this incident, Mutu faced significant consequences, receiving a seven-match ban from the FA. In addition to that, the Romanian forward was fined £20,000. This episode meant the premature end of Mutu’s stint with Chelsea, ruining what could have been a once-promising future with the Chelsea.

3. Rio Ferdinand : Manchester United – 8 months, January 2004

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Rio Ferdinand (Credit - Manchester United)

In December 2003, Rio Ferdinand ended up missing a scheduled drug test, citing being ‘out shopping’ as the reason. Although he later took and passed the test, he faced an eight-month ban and a £50,000 fine following an two-day long FA disciplinary hearing. This setback, which he later suggested was a good thing for him in hindsight, led to Ferdinand missing the remaining months of Manchester United’s campaign and England’s opportunity at Euro 2004 glory. Despite his  best efforts to overturn the appeal and reduce the ban, he was unsuccessful in his pursuits.

Ultimately, it was revealed that the FA turned down Ferdinand’s offer to undergo a hair follicle test in an attempt to clear his name. The incident had significant impact on both Ferdinand’s club and international career during that period.

2. Mark Bosnich : Chelsea – 9 months, December 2002

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 Mark Bosnich (Credit -

Aussie keeper Bosnich faced a significant setback when he tested positive for cocaine while playing for Chelsea in September 2002, resulting in his dismissal from the West London-based club. Bosnich, in his response, attempted to appeal the case in order to clear his name, contended that he had only taken the Class A drug after being banned from playing. Despite his efforts, his efforts to overturn the ban were unsuccessful and he did not end up winning the appeal.

1. Eric Cantona : Manchester United – 9 months, January 1995

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Eric Cantona (Credit -

One of the Classics in Premier League history whenever the topic of controversies and bans comes up, this tale which is as old as time unfolded at Selhurst Park when Manchester United found themselves trailing against Crystal Palace. Tensions reached a boiling point for Eric Cantona, who was sent off for a foul on Richard Shaw. On his way to the tunnel, Cantona executed a kung-fu kick on a supporter in the crowd. as the pressure cooker inside his head went off the rockers. This shocking event resulted in a nine-month suspension for Cantona, contributing to Manchester United’s loss of the title to Blackburn Rovers. In addition to the suspension, Cantona faced a fine of £30,000 for his displaying his combat skills at the wrong place and time.

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