Sandro Tonali: Eddie Howe hopes Newcastle midfielder avoids further consequences

Newcastle boss Eddie Howe hopes midfielder Sandro Tonali avoids further consequences after being charged by the Football Association for alleged breaches of betting rules.

The 23-year-old is already serving a 10-month ban for breaking betting regulations in Italy.

Tonali was charged with misconduct by the FA for alleged breaches of its betting rules on Thursday.

"He has suffered during this period and he has sought help," Howe said.

The Italian Football Federation (FIGC) handed Tonali a worldwide ban in October, with eight months of the punishment commuted to "a therapeutic plan" to help "recovery from gambling addiction".

The English FA alleges that Tonali, who joined Newcastle from AC Milan for £55m in July, broke its rules by placing 50 bets on matches between 12 August and 12 October 2023.

The FA charges relate to separate allegations during Tonali's time as a Newcastle player.

"The news that there was an FA charge - that illness didn't stop when he moved from Italy to England," Howe said.

"That illness was there and people should look at it that way, not 'let's throw the book at him and punish him even further' because I don't think that gets to the root of the problem."

He has until 5 April to respond to the FA's charges.

On Friday, Tonali's agents GR Sports posted on Instagram saying the current investigation is a result of the Italian reporting himself to the FA earlier this season.

It said: "We are therefore not talking about anything new but simply about recurring facts before the Italian disqualification, which the player voluntarily wanted to bring to light to the English Federation to put an end to a negative and very painful parenthesis of his life."

GR Sports added Tonali will do everything he can to ensure the proceedings are "resolved as quickly as possible".

Tonali's current ban runs until August and relates to a period prior to his move to England when he breached the FIGC rule which prohibits players from placing bets on football events organised by FIGC, Uefa and Fifa. He was also fined 20,000 euros (£17,380).

"He is seeking help on a regular basis," said Howe, who was speaking in the build-up to Saturday's game against West Ham (12:30 GMT).

"This is something that will not be going away. He has regular meetings both here and in Italy to deal with it."

Tonali made just 12 appearances for Newcastle before his suspension was imposed and is allowed to train alongside his team-mates despite being banned from playing competitively.

Brentford striker Ivan Toney, 28, returned in January from an eight-month ban for 232 breaches of the FA's betting rules.

Former England and Arsenal midfielder Paul Merson, who says he was a "compulsive gambler" during his career, called Tonali and Toney's bans a "disgrace".