Adam Johnson, the Sunderland and England footballer, has been arrested by police on suspicion of having sexual intercourse with a 15-year-old girl.
Sunderland announced it has suspended the player pending the outcome of a police investigation.
Johnson, 27, who has played for England 12 times, was arrested at his home in the Durham countryside yesterday (Monday) morning and taken to a police station for questioning.
He was bailed last night while inquiries continued.
It is believed he lives at the property, which was searched, with his long-term girlfriend Stacey Flounders, 25. According to her Facebook page, she and Johnson had just had their first baby.
On Jan 24, she posted pictures of a newborn baby girl, with her friends leaving comments of congratulations.
A statement from Sunderland AFC yesterday said: "Sunderland AFC has confirmed that Adam Johnson has been suspended from the club, pending the outcome of a police investigation. No further comment will be made at the present time."
Johnson will miss Sunderland's crucial match with fellow Premier League strugglers Hull City tonight (Tuesday) and will not be allowed to visit the training ground while he is suspended. He could also miss another vital fixture at home to Aston Villa next weekend.
A spokesman for Durham Constabulary said last night: "A 27-year-old man arrested today on suspicion of sexual activity with a girl under 16 years has been released on police bail pending ongoing investigations."
His name was leaked to a national newspaper, with neighbours confirming that he had been arrested by officers
who arrived in three marked police cars.While conducting a search of his home, reports have also claimed that officers found a loaded gun, although Johnson holds a licence for the weapon.
Johnson was expected to become one of England's finest footballers when he broke into the Middlesbrough first team as a 17-year-old. He signed for big-spending Manchester City for pounds 8million in January in 2012 and became a regular in the England squad.
However, he spent much of his last season at the Etihad Stadium on the bench and did not make the England squad for the European Championships in 2012.
That prompted the winger to seek a move and he signed for Sunderland for pounds 10m later that summer. However, Johnson has been unable to earn an England recall and has not played for his country for almost three years.
His form at Sunderland, the club he supported as a boy, has been inconsistent, although he remains one of its best players, and his suspension will have serious ramifications for its attempts to avoid the financial disaster of relegation to the Championship.
However, sources at Sunderland insist it was the right thing to do given the nature of the allegation. It is unwilling to discuss what action it will take if Johnson is charged with an offence and the case goes to court.