Accrington Stanley midfielder Sam Finley has been hit with an eight-game ban by the Football Association after admitting 'using abusive or insulting language' which 'included a reference to nationality' during the New Year's Day defeat to Rochdale.

The 27-year-old has also been fined £850 and must attend face-to-face education following a breach of FA Rule E3.

Finley denied using the word 'pikey' towards Dale's Irish defender Paul McShane but told the FA: “I did make reference that Paul should go back to his caravan and that I was referencing his being Irish in doing so."

The Liverpudlian was already due to serve a two-game ban for reaching 10 bookings this season meaning he will now be suspended for 10 matches in total, the coronavirus pandemic having put a halt on the Reds’ season with nine games left to play.

An FA statement read: "The Accrington Stanley FC midfielder admitted using abusive or insulting language during the 23rd minute of an EFL League One fixture against Rochdale AFC on Wednesday 1 January 2020.

"The language used was contrary to FA Rule E3(1) and constituted an ‘aggravated breach’, which is defined in FA Rule E3(2), as it included a reference to nationality."

In the written reasons provided by the FA they state: "The Fixture referee, Mr T Nield, by a lengthy report dated 1st January 2020 stated in effect that during the fixture Paul McShane of Rochdale AFC reported to him that he had been racially abused by the participant having been called “a pikey”.

"Neither the referee nor any of the officials heard the incident and having informed the technical area members of the incident Mr Nield arranged for the participant to be seen soon after the game with his manager present.

"At that post match interview the participant denied the allegations claiming only to have used the word “p***k” and not “pikey”.

"The participant was subsequently interviewed by the FA on January 15 2020 and during that interview again claimed only to have said “f*** off back to your caravan you p***k”. 10. However, consequent on being formally charged on the February 26 2020 the Participant admitted the charge."

The commission felt that an 11-match ban should be a starting point for their deliberations, but accepting two mitigating factors that the offence was nationality-based and that McShane wasn't required to provide evidence, reduced that to eight.

The amount he was fined was also reduced from £1,750 to £850 for the same reasons. 

Finley signed for Stanley in the summer of 2018 from non-league side AFC Fylde and has gone on to become a regular in John Coleman's side.

He has played 82 times, scoring three times, and signed a new deal last year which will keep him under contract at the Wham Stadium until 2021.