Watford’s players, who next month line up against Manchester City in the FA Cup final at Wembley, are fined up to £1,000 for every minute they are late for training, it has been claimed.
The hardline sanction imposed by manager Javi Gracia was outlined by a lawyer representing Watford’s French midfielder Etienne Capoue, who has been banned from driving after he was caught speeding at 116mph while “running late for a job”.
The lawyer suggested the fine and the potential loss of his place in the first team were factors behind Capoue speeding.
Capoue’s team-mate Craig Cathcart spoke in a Telegraph interview last September about the tough fines policy introduced by Spaniard Gracia, although Catchcart suggested the sanction for lateness was nearer to £100 a minute.
“He [Gracia] is tough,” said defender Cathcart. “This season we’ve got a whole new fine list. It’s pretty lumpy if you are late. But if you are going to risk being late then you deserve to be fined. It’s £50 a minute and then if you don’t pay it, it doubles.”
Capoue was disqualified for three months for hitting “excessive speed” on the M25 in December last year.
The 30-year-old, of Barnet, North London, did not attend a short hearing at Stevenage Magistrates’ Court in Hertfordshire on Thursday, which proceeded in his absence.
He had previously pleaded guilty to a charge of speeding in March.
Prosecutor Graham Allen told the court that police spotted Capoue’s car travelling at “excessive speed” on the M25 near St Albans at around 9.20am on Dec 30.
Capoue’s black Mercedes G63, which was travelling between between junctions 22 and 20, was followed for 2.3 miles during which time he was clocked hitting 116mph on the 70mph limit motorway.
When questioned and cautioned by police, Capoue said he had been “running late for a job”, Allen said.
The court heard that Capoue had previously received a 28-day driving ban and £1,000 fine for speeding at 53mph in a 30mph zone on February 17 2017.
Representing Capoue, Kwaku Awuku-Asabre said the footballer was unable to attend court because he was at an “important” training ahead of an away match on Saturday.
“He had tried to negotiate his way out of going to that training but it was not possible,” Awuku-Asabre told magistrates, handing over a letter of apology from his client.
Chair of bench Corinna Murray responded: “We’re not very pleased with the situation, other people manage to take time off from work.”
Mitigating, Awuku-Asabre said Capoue was a father to three children aged five, three and 10 months.
The night before the offence his youngest child was unwell with “breathing difficulties” and Capoue had not wanted to leave his wife with the baby in the morning to go to training.
Awuku-Asabre explained that the conditions imposed on Watford players are “quite severe” with a fining structure of about £1,000 a minute for being late.
Watford are at the medium range of Premier League players wages, with the top earner understood to be captain Troy Deeney, who receives a basic wage of around £70,000 a week.
Capoue was described as the main “bread-winner” in his household, who was conscious of the risk of not being selected to play.
“This is what was going on in his mind,” Awuku-Asabre told the court.
He said Capoue had borrowed his wife’s car the day of his offence, with the footballer normally driving a seven-seater vehicle which he uses for the school run.
Awuku-Asabre said Capoue felt “remorse” for his actions and “should not have been driving that fast”.
Sentencing, Murray said Capoue’s family was in “a position where they can employ a driver” and repeated her “dissatisfaction” that the footballer was not present.
Capoue, who joined Watford in 2015, was banned from driving for three months and ordered to pay a £1,666 fine, £85 in prosecution costs and a £166 statutory surcharge. News from The Telegraph