English FA tightens betting rules for new season

MARTYN HERMAN
Last updated 23:46 01/08/2014

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Tough new rules introduced by the Football Association will outlaw all football-related betting for players, club employees and match officials in the top eight tiers of the English game.

The draconian new rules mean betting on any match, be it domestic or anywhere in the world, will be prohibited from the start of the 2014-15 season.

Betting on off-field developments such as managerial sackings and player transfers will also be banned.

The crackdown applies to bets made in person, online, on the telephone or through a friend or any third party, the FA states on its website which contains a video explaining the tightening of its gambling rules.

Previously, only betting on a match or competition in which an individual was involved, or could influence, was prohibited.

That restriction will be retained for minor league clubs.

Earlier this year the FA's general secretary Alex Horne said match-fixing and spot-fixing were "not big issues" in the English game despite several arrests as part of a National Crime Agency (NCA) investigation.

However, with massive rise in online betting sites, allowing punters to bet on a huge range of match-related markets, and a steady stream of match-fixing cases from around the world, the FA is tightening its net.

It has even turned to former Italian player and now Aston Villa academy coach Simone Farina to help get the message over.

Farina played a key role in 2011 stopping a match-fixing attempt while playing for Serie B club Gubbio - his evidence leading to the arrest of 17 people.

GREY AREAS

"Footballers need to be strong and say no to match-fixing," Farina, who went to the Italian police after being offered 200,000 euros ($267,800) to throw a match, said in a video on the FA's website.

"The FA are working hard to educate children, footballers, coaches and referees. It's everybody's responsibility to play fair."

Several arrests and prosecutions for match-fixing occurred in English semi-professional football last season.

England and Tottenham Hotspur winger Andros Townsend was also banned for four months, three of them suspended, after betting on televised matches while on loan the previous season.

"I was bored and there were TV ads promoting bets you could have on the matches I was watching," he was quoted at the time.

"So I downloaded the phone app and started having small wagers to make watching games as a neutral fun.

"I was incredibly naive and didn't realise I was doing anything wrong," he added. "I assumed as long as you weren't betting on your club, then it was OK."

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Horne said the new rules would avoid any grey areas.

"We want to keep our message as simple as possible - and it cannot be more simple that as a player you cannot bet at all on football," he said.

- Reuters

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