Sevco, SFA

What Are The Odds?

Good Afternoon. [And please vote ‘Clumpany’!]

As you will have seen, Scotland’s player of the year 2016-17 – Joey Barton – is back in the news. Not only has he been ‘slapped’ with a charge from the Compliance Officer in relation to 44 bets allegedly placed on football matches between 1 July and 15 September, but he is soon due to return to Sevco following his three week suspension by the ‘club’. [NB Presumably the ‘holding company’ doesn’t get involved in HR-related matters, despite being the entity which has legal personality…].

Barton is one of only a very small number of players to be charged with breaking the SFA’s strict rules against any betting on football. Nevertheless, you would only expect him to receive a minor punishment if found guilty, given that various Judicial Panels have been reulctant to ‘make an example’ of anyone in recent years.

For example:

In 2013, Sevco’s Ian Black has given a three-game ban, with a further seven suspended, and was fined £7,500 for gambling on 160 matches over seven years, including betting against his own team three times.

In 2014, Ayr’s Michael Moffat served a four-game ban (reduced on appeal from six), having been found guilty of placing seven bets on six matches involving his own team, and of placing an additional 150 bets on other games.

In 2015, Sevco’s Steve Simonsen received a one-game ban for betting on 50 games in a year. The SFA compliance officer challenged the punishment as ‘unduly lenient’, but his appeal was rejected.

Also in 2015, Partick Thistle’s Steven Lawless received a six-match ban, with four suspended. He was accused of betting on 513 matches between December 2012 and March 2015.

I expect Barton’s Judicial Panel hearing to be a quiet and dignified occasion. Unlike the SPFL, it won’t be sponsored by Ladbrokes, and I suspect that betting ‘in play’ won’t be allowed (even on the number of fouls committed…). 

Nor do I expect the proceedings to be broadcast to betting shops across the land or to break for commercials topped and tailed by Ray Winstone doing his best ‘Ray Winstone’ impression.

I also fear that rumours of the panel consisting of noted QCs Messers William Hill, Paddy Power, and Victor Chandler are completely unfounded. And there is  absolutely no truth whatsoever in stories  that the hearing will take place during the 3:30 at Doncaster. LITERALLY during the 3:30 at Doncaster… with all participants required to make the weight and conduct the hearing on horseback.

So despite the scope for fireworks and entertainment, and despite Roddy Forsyth’s vague assertion that “Rangers’ action could be even more draconian”, the smart money is on an unspectacular outcome should Barton be found guilty. 

Because it seems that when actually required to ‘walk the walk’ the authorities don’t take gambling anywhere near as seriously as their ‘zero tolerance’ rhetoric would suggest.

Perhaps if the SFA had seen and acted-upon ‘Ally’s list’ back in the day. things might be different…

Some observers outrageously suggested that Ally was simply grandstanding with a sheaf of blank paper…

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