Pools player Carl Magnay has been accused of letting himself and his club down after being slapped with a six-game ban for spitting at a supporter.
The defender, 26, has also been fined £750 by the Football Association as a result of the incident, which occurred after he was sent off in a league game at Wycombe Wanderers last month.
Pools have pledged their “unwavering support” for Magnay, who they signed from Grimsby Town in the summer. However, he was found guilty of the charge by an Independent Regulatory Commission after contesting it.
Phil Dunn, spokesman of the Hartlepool United Supporters’ Trust, hopes Magnay will learn his lesson from the incident.
He said: “The level of punishment was to be expected, really. You’ve got to face the punishment if you’ve done something like that.
“I can understand players losing their heads at times, particularly if they are goaded, but there’s no real excuse for that. You’ve got to rise above it.
Carl has certainly let the club and himself downPhil Dunn
“Nowadays, with the video evidence available, you can’t get away with things like that.
“When the players are on the pitch, they’re representing the club and the town, and they’ve got to behave in the right way.
“Carl has certainly let the club and himself down. Hopefully he’ll learn from it, because a six-game ban is going to put him out of action for a fair time.”
Magnay, originally from Gateshead, was sent off 85 minutes into the League Two match in question, which Wycombe won 2-1. He had earlier scored Pools’ goal.
The former Chelsea trainee – who won the second series of Sky talent show Football Icon – retains the full support of his club.
A Hartlepool United statement read: “The club is extremely disappointed by the decision of the Independent Regulatory Commission following the charge made against Carl Magnay.
“We will now await the written reasons for their verdict before deciding how best to proceed, but would like to make it absolutely clear that Carl retains our full and unwavering support.”
Mr Dunn is unsure of whether a Pools appeal would be worthwhile, although he is certain Magnay will be a big miss to the team.
He added: “He’s a good player, and we’ve missed him when he has been out injured.
“He’s a vital part of the team, so it’s disappointing he’ll be unavailable for such a long time. He’s one of the first names on the teamsheet.
“I’d be tempted not to appeal, though, because if you lose an appeal, there’s a danger they could ban him for even longer.”