The SFA have sent out a message to footballs’ match fixers that they are a soft touch when it comes to gambling.
Yesterday Ian Black of The Rangers was given a three match suspension and fined a weeks wages after pleading guilty to making over 100 bets including ten involving the club he was registered with- on three occasions Black bet on his club not to win.
Cushioning the sanction the SFA statement pointed out: “Please note that there is no evidence to suggest any breach of Disciplinary Rule 23 (Rule 34 in updated Judicial Panel Protocol for season 2013/14).
Disciplinary Rule 23, for reference: No club, official, Team Official, other member of Team Staff, player, match official or other person under the jurisdiction of the Scottish FA shall knowingly behave in a manner, during or in connection with a match in which the party has participated or has any influence, either direct or indirect, which could give rise to an event in which they or any third party benefits financially through betting.”
UEFA and FIFA have both stated their worries about the growing influence of gambling in football with a number of matches under investigation including Champions League and Europa League qualifiers.
It’s not too difficult to make the association from gambling to match fixing with perhaps only three players in one team needed to make a significant impact on the result.
While these activities are generally associated with eastern European countries there has been a number of recent suspensions in England for players involved in gambling.
In 2009 four players were suspended for between five months and a year for betting on a match between Accrington Stanley and Bury in which they played.
With the SFA going easy on Black it opens the door to match fixers to target Scottish football.
In the fourth tier of the Scottish game, where Black played last season, the majority of players are on a basic wage of £50 a week alongside their full time job.
The attractions of getting involved in gambling has increased greatly with yesterday’s ‘punishment’ to Black, would a £50 fine and one match ban really provide a deterant to players involved in end of season matches played out in front of less than 300 supporters and no television cameras?