Whitehawk have vowed to stand by banned striker Sam Gargan.

The frontman has been suspended from all football for three months after admitting breaching the Football Association’s Rule E8 in relation to betting.

The FA brought in the rule last August which stops all players from steps one to four in the pyramid betting on any games in the world of football.

Gargan has admitted a charge of marking a number of bets over a period of time dating back to when he was an 18-year-old at Albion on loan to Lewes.

The charge only relates to one game that he played in, when Gargan bet on Lewes to win a match at Cambridge United back in the 2008-09 season.

Gargan pleaded ignorance of the rules when accepting the chance.

Whitehawk believe he has been harshly dealt with but insist they will not be ditching their longest serving player.

Sam’s father Chris Gargan is president of the club and the board member manager Steven King directly reports to on player matters.

Gargan senior admitted the case had put him in a difficult position but says the club – and King – are in agreement that they will not punish Gargan further.

Chris Gargan said: “We feel Sam has been really harshly treated. The first thing is there is no criminality involved. It is a breach of rule E8 which is all encompassing since last August.

“James Demetriou from Swansea admitted the same charge but he has not been banned. He has been fined £700. Sam has been fined £300 and banned for three months.

“Obviously it brings the club into disrepute and puts pressure on me personally in my position.

“But the club will stand by him. We feel the sentence is severe and it goes back to pre-Whitehawk days.

“Sam was looking forward to the season because he finished last season on a high, he has lost some weight and was looking sharp. He cannot even train with the team while he is suspended.

“He will come back in October and go on loan somewhere to get some games. He will then come back to Whitehawk and be a Whitehawk player from the beginning of November.”

Gargan began his career at Albion, making one first team appearance. He joined Whitehawk in September 2010.

Meanwhile, John Summers has taken over as acting chairman of Whitehawk following the departure of Jim Collins.

Former Burgess Hill chairman Collins has stepped down after a year in charge, citing he felt he was unable to carry out the role he was brought in to do.

Summers and Peter McDonnell were previously co-chairmen and are the club’s main benefactors.

Collins said: “I have fulfilled my year. Unfortunately, the benefactors haven’t been able to concede control to the chairman so I don’t see a role for me.

“John Summers is the new chairman and I wish him all the best.

“I will look to help out where I can but in terms of decision making it is really in the hands of the benefactors to move the club forward both on and off the park.

“That is especially off the park because on the park Steve (King) is doing a great job. He is contracted for this season so that is all good.”