There’s nothing quite like double-standards to get the minds of conspiracy theorists running into overdrive.
While the likes of Ivan Toney have had the book thrown at them after admitting to placing bets on football matches – a absolute no-no according to the rules of the Football Association, one unnamed manager, who is still working today at a club in one of the top four leagues of the English game, has walked away scot-free.
According to an investigation by The Athletic, which like all of their content is hidden behind a paywall, the manager placed 28 bets on football games – albeit only three after the FA introduced their ban on punting back in 2014.
But three is still more than none, of course, and there will be plenty wondering how this mysterious individual has not been punished while several players have had their careers upended due to the sanctions metered out on them.
Three is the Magic Number
A statement from the FA on the matter reveals a rather blasé attitude towards the betting rule breaches – almost as if the fact that it’s just three bets placed makes it okay.
After a ‘full and thorough investigation’ was conducted, the spokesperson revealed that: “The details of this specific case included a total of 28 historic bets on football, with only three bets placed, of a low value, after the FA’s introduction of a total ban for participants to bet on football in 2014.”
The definition of ‘low value’ is certainly in the eye of the beholder: The Mirror has reported that the total amount wagered was in the region of £1 million, although £879,000 is thought to have been bet upon horse racing.
Other mitigating circumstances, in the minds of the FA, were that the last bet was placed back in 2017, with none of them wagered upon a game that the individual was involved in personally.
“With all aspects fully considered, the case was closed, and the individual was issued with a formal warning,” they concluded.
The governing body has been forced to defend itself against accusations of double standards after some questioned the secretive nature of the FA’s investigation – whereas Toney and others have been exposed to a public circus while an examination into their betting activities has been completed.
“The reports that suggest that this has been a secret process are categorically incorrect. There are legal restrictions on us being able to name the individual, which are unconnected with the betting matter,” the spokesperson said.
According to the Daily Mail, two former professional players – Alan Rogers and Steve Jennings – were linked to the case after allegedly blackmailing the manager in question. That court case was dropped after the manager decided not to proceed with the trial.
Numbers That Don’t Add Up
Admit 232 breaches of FA betting rules: banned for eight months and fined £50,000.
Admit 375 breaches of FA betting rules: suspended ban of five months and fined £20,000.
If Ivan Toney thought he was being made an example of before, he now has the evidence to prove it after Nottingham Forest defender Harry Toffolo was sanctioned with a lighter punishment than the Brentford striker despite a considerably much more substantial wrongdoing.
Toffolo won’t miss a single minute of football, assuming he doesn’t breach the terms of his suspended ban, despite admitting to placing 375 bets on football games between 2014 and 2017.
He is one of an increasing number of players that are being hit with betting-related punishments, with current England international Kieran Trippier and former pros like Joey Barton and Daniel Sturridge all punished for breaching the FA’s clear rules that prohibit betting on football in any fashion.
The scale of the problem is so considerable that former Stoke City and Republic of Ireland striker Jonathan Walters has called for an ‘amnesty’ that would allow players to admit their past misdemeanours without fear of sanctions.
I firmly believe there should be a betting amnesty where players can come forward and admit the bets that they have done over the past few years. This may be the one chance a player will admit they have a problem, get help and have a clean slate..
— Jonathan Walters (@JonWalters19) September 14, 2023
The severity of Toney’s punishment was exacerbated by the fact that he had wagered against his own team – Toffolo is not thought to have bet on any games in which he had a personal involvement.