Nine current or former professional footballers have been charged with breaching the FA’s strict rules on betting – with a mind-blowing 6,683 breaches being investigated.
Meanwhile, Premier League ace Lucas Paqueta is being quizzed over allegations that he was deliberately booked in three different games for West Ham – with the possibility that a gambling consortium benefitted financially.
Of the nine, four are believed to be former teammates of Ivan Toney, the Brentford striker currently suspended until the new year for more than 200 betting breaches of his own.
Having a Flutter
The nine players have all been charged in the past few months, with the dust barely settling on Toney’s investigation.
Four former Northampton Town players – Greg Kaziboni, Dean Snedker, Callum Westwood and Lewis Wilson – have been charged with more than 2,500 breaches of betting rules between them.
Some, including Westwood and Wilson, have admitted the charged levelled against them, while others – such as Snedker – have denied allegations that they placed hundreds of bets over a number of years.
According to a report published in the Daily Mail, phone recordings have been sourced that allegedly reveal Snedker, Wilson and Toney having conversations about football betting during their time together in Northampton.
Other players have also been accused of placing hundreds of bets between them, which is strictly forbidden by the Football Association for those deployed in the top echelons of the game. Amongst them is former Rushden and Diamonds player Nathan Hicks, a cousin of Toney’s. He was previously fined for admitting an earlier series of betting offences, although this time he’s charged with placing more than 2,700 bets between 2017 and 2022.
World Cup Woes
After finally breaking his silence on his suspension from the game, Toney has claimed that the furore over his own betting scandal ultimately led to him missing out on a place in England’s World Cup squad.
The news was broken that Toney was facing the possibility of FA charges for breaching Rule E8 in the weeks prior to Gareth Southgate naming his squad for Qatar – despite the fact that he wasn’t punished for the offences until months later.
And in conversation with Dragon’s Den panellist Steven Bartlett, who hosts the ‘Diary of a CEO’ podcast, Toney believes the timing of the news being leaked was designed to turn the matter into a ‘bigger story’ – manufactured in a way to prevent him from receiving a call-up for the Three Lions.
“Personally, I feel like it was a bit of a questionable time when they decided to bring it all out and when they actually dealt with the situation come the end of the season,” he said. “It was kind of like, ‘why’d you bring it out then, and then punish me at the end of the season?”
Toney also revealed that he wasn’t entirely sure that he had placed the 232 bets that he was later charged for. “On the 232 breaches, there was some bets in there that I don’t recall making, but I was willing to take responsibility to get the process all over and done with.”
Later on in the podcast, Toney claims that he didn’t know that footballers were banned from betting on the sport.
While those nine players have been accused of placing bets on the beautiful game, West Ham winger Paqueta is alleged to have behaved in a way to benefit punters in the know.
It’s been reported that the Football Association were initially investigating Paqueta for bookings he picked up in games against Aston Villa and Leeds United in March and May respectively.
However, that process has since been accelerated after the Brazilian picked up another potentially dubious yellow card in the Hammers’ 2023/24 season opener against Bournemouth in August.
Integrity officials reported to the FA that a flurry of bets on Paqueta to be carded against the Cherries had been placed – enough of them, both in terms of volume and value, to create suspicion.
A number of the bets placed were traced back to the coincidentally-named Paqueta Island, a tiny island near Rio de Janeiro where travelling by motor vehicle is prohibited.
According to Sky Sports, Paqueta himself has denied placing any bets and has no knowledge of any syndicate that would benefit from him being carded during the games in question.
Unfortunately for the 25-year-old, the scandal may just have cost him a dream move to treble-winning Manchester City….