Former Socceroo Mitch Nichols’ chances of landing another A-League contract appear shattered after he was charged with possessing a prohibited drug.
Nichols was arrested about 12.30am on Saturday at Casablanca nightclub in Sydney’s Double Bay during a police drug dog operation.
NSW Police said they found “three small clear resealable plastic bags” containing 1.1 grams of a white powder, believed to be cocaine, on a 28-year-old man.
Nichols, who was released by Western Sydney Wanderers last week, was given a court attendance notice and is due to front Downing Centre Local Court on Friday, June 9.
If convicted, it is likely to end his playing career in Australia given he has already played for nearly half the teams in the A-League.
Nichols’ contract with the Wanderers officially expires at the end of the month, but he can still be charged under FFA’s code of conduct even after becoming a free agent, given he will still be a registered player under the governing body’s jurisdiction.
Nichols could be charged by FFA with “bringing the game into disrepute” and banned, though will be given the right to a fair hearing.
“FFA takes matters such as this very seriously,” a Football Federation Australia spokesperson said.
“The matter has been referred to the FFA Integrity Department, which has spoken to the club, and will be dealt with under the FFA Code of Conduct.”
The Wanderers released a statement on Wednesday confirming they are in contact with FFA over the incident.
“The Western Sydney Wanderers remains totally committed to its anti-drugs stance and will continue to reinforce the club’s zero-tolerance message,” the statement said.
“While Mitch was released by the club prior to the incident, the player’s wellbeing remains a priority and every support will be offered to him during this time.”
The charges come a week after the NRL was hit by a raft of arrests and incidents involving cocaine.
Cronulla Sharks chairman Damian Keogh, Sydney Roosters star Shaun Kenny-Dowall and Cronulla Sharks youngster Jesse Savage were all charged with the possession of an illicit substance.
Kiwis captain Jesse Bromwich and teammate Kevin Proctor also allegedly bought and consumed cocaine in Canberra, with both players hit with suspensions from their club sides and national team.
FFA has no clear precedent for drug offences apart from former Central Coast player Troy Hearfield, who served a 15-month ban after he was found to have traces of recreational drugs in his system following a routine test in 2013.
Hearfield was found to have contravened the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) code of conduct, and left the Mariners.
Western Sydney was Nichols’ fourth club, following stints with Perth Glory, Melbourne Victory and Brisbane Roar, where he won two grand finals.
Originally from the Gold Coast, he has played five times for the Socceroos, with his most recent cap coming in November, 2014, against Japan.
His best hope of finding another contract would be overseas but his only attempt so far — a move to Japanese club Cerezo Ozaka in 2014 — was unsuccessful, playing just 10 times in all competitions.
MITCH NICHOLS’ CAREER
2007-2009: Australia U-20
2007-2013: Brisbane Roar
2010-2012: Australia U-23
2013-2014: Melbourne Victory
2014: Cerezo Osaka
2014-2015: Perth Glory
2015-2017: Western Sydney Wanderers