Most sports fans have found that betting on their favourite teams or players makes them enjoy the games even more. Take EPL fans as an…
Northampton-born Ivan Toney’s footballing ride has been full of ups and downs, from starting out in the lower leagues at his home town club to a move to Newcastle United that saw him experience limited playing time.
Loan spells at Barnsley, Shrewsbury Town, Scunthorpe United (twice) and Wigan Athletic followed.
While none of those indicated he could be a special talent a switch to Peterborough United saw him become one of the countries most prolific goalscorers and earned a move to a club on the up in Brentford.
While undoubtedly a highly talented player the striker is now best known for a recent ban picked up for betting on football matches.
With that in mind it’s worth looking at how that ban compares to others, why there’s been criticism of the ban, a few slightly misleading views from those who should know better and what it means for his future.
Before I go too far into this I want to point out that a number of these offences involved bets involving his own team. I’d also add that 30 of the original breaches were withdrawn with the player admitting to 262 breaches.
The offences took place over a series of just under four years, from February 2017 to January 2021 and while no real details have been released with regards to the breaches Toney would not be the only 20 something young man to have had 262 bets in that time period.
Among the offences include bets on both Newcastle United and Wigan Athletic to lose while he was on loan at the Latics from Newcastle during the 2017/18 season.
While this is undoubtedly one of the more serious offences it’s always worth pointing out that this is not a result he could directly influence given he did not play in the games in question.
Further to the above Toney bet on himself to score and passed inside information on to friends with regards to him playing in games when he started the match was not common knowledge.
Toney has been banned for eight months and fined £50,000 for the various offences and it’s worth noting that following a diagnosis for gambling addiction and a guilty plea this ban is greatly reduced having originally been due to have been handed a 15 month ban.
Taking the above into account it’s worth looking at how much and how long other players have been banned for following their own betting offences.
The highest profile case in English football is probably that of Joey Barton, banned for 18 months and fined £30,000 for placing 1,260 bets on football matches over a period of nearly ten years.
It’s notable that Barton had already pleaded guilty to breaching the Scottish Football Association’s regulations on betting, for which he was banned for one game due to bets placed during the summer of 2016 when playing for Rangers.
With regards to the ban from the FA I haven’t seen too many details about how and where the bets placed by Toney were struck but Barton was reportedly active on betting exchange Betfair including betting on his own team to lose in addition to bets on other sports.
Compared to the Barton ban, Toney’s looks very light indeed, particularly with Barton also being diagnosed with a gambling addiction.
There have been other high profile cases too with England international and current Newcastle United defender Kieran Trippier banned for ten weeks and fined £70,000 for a WhatsApp message that seemed to encourage friends to have money on Atletico Madrid as his next club when on the verge of a move from Tottenham Hotspur in the summer of 2019.
Like Toney, Trippier co-operated fully with the enquiry and the move to Atletico Madrid duly went through.
Daniel Sturridge, like Toney a Premier League striker, also had a brief spell on the sidelines, again thanks to information about a potential transfer.
Sturridge received a four month ban and a £150,000 fine for his offences while Joey Barton, who’s been a regular with regards to bans was sentenced to an 18 month ban for placing over 1,200 bets including a number relating to teammates over a period of over a decade.
Andros Townsend admitted a gambling addiction and suffered a suspension of four months for breaching betting regulations while Cameron Jerome (£50,000 fine) and Premier League winner Martin Demichelis (£22,000 fine) are others to have been charged in relation to betting offences.
Looking at the ban itself and the fines above it doesn’t appear to be unduly lenient or harsh, a sizeable chunk of the ban will be during the off-season and all being well Toney will be available for Brentford by the end of next January’s transfer window.
Outside of football there have been a number of other high profile betting related corruption cases.
Life time bans from the sport are particularly popular in cricket with Mohammad Azharuddin, Hansie Cronje and Saleem Malik all banned for life for corruption, although Malik’s ban was later overturned while Azharuddin’s was revoked in a court of law in 2012.
Pakistan international Danish Kaneria received a life ban from the sport from the England and Wales Cricket Board despite being cleared of “match irregularities” having been arrested by the police in 2010.
New Zealand international Lou Vincent was banned for life for match fixing in English domestic cricket, his second such brush with the authorities having been banned for three years for failing to report an approach to fix a Bangladesh Premier League game.
In the NFL the Detroit Lions’ Quintez Cephus and CJ Moore plus Shaka Toney (no relation to Ivan) of the Washington Commanders were all banned for at least a year by the NFL for betting on games.
The Lions will also have Stanley Berryhill and Jameson Williams missing for six games for gambling policy infractions with the offences including betting from an NFL facility on non-NFL events.
In recent times snooker has been hit with its share of match fixing too with a number of Chinese players under investigation while Stephen Lee, John Higgins and Quentin Hann are among the snooker players banned in the last 20 years.
Rugby league players Sean Long and Martin Gleeson were banned for two and three months respectively plus were issued with fines in 2004 for betting on Bradford Bulls to beat their own team St Helens in a league match. Long and Gleeson, integral part of the Saints team at the time were both among a number of players rested with Saints sending out a severely depleted team to a 54-8 defeat at Bradford’s Odsall Satdium.
I’ve seen plenty of misleading statements in relation to what exactly footballers can and can’t do.
A huge chunk of these relate to betting with the notion that they are banned from betting being pushed by a number of people who should know better.
Footballers are banned from betting on football, nothing else, just football. While the likes of Toney are highly unlikely to be able to bring the game into disrepute from having say an accumulator on Argentinian second tier matches it avoids any grey areas and an “I didn’t know” defence should a player on loan at one club bet on the team playing against his parent club, or similar.
It’s been reported that Ivan Toney has been diagnosed with a gambling addiction and I’d hope that his current club Brentford and the PFA are doing all they can to get him help.
With the likes of former Arsenal captain Tony Adam’s Sporting Chance organisation around I’m sure there will be people there willing to and wanting to help him recover.
Some have been keen to link the issue of shirt sponsorship and gambling to Toney’s offences but the truth is that it shouldn’t be an issue.
Any number of sporting clubs are sponsored by sportsbooks, or alcohol companies and in years gone by cigarette companies.
Some sports have whole tournaments sponsored by sportsbooks but seemingly no/limited issues surrounding gambling from players involved in such tournaments.
Footballers are in a fantastic position to get support for addiction from their clubs and the PFA and it’s a real shame that Toney’s gambling was such an issue that he wasn’t able to access such support.
Recent social media posts from the player suggest that he is not happy with an eight month ban.
In the circumstances it looks fairly light and one would hope that Toney sits out the next eight months and gets help for the addiction he has been diagnosed with and comes back better and stronger in early 2024.