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Motherwell chief defends Steve Jennings in bribe probe

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Steve Jennings Motherwell red card

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Motherwell owner John Boyle has defended Steve Jennings over claims that he may have been involved in a betting sting.

Jennings and referee Stevie O’Reilly are at the centre of the probe after the Fir Park defender received a straight red card for foul and abusive language eight minutes from the end of his side’s 2-1 defeat from Hearts.

The Association of British Bookmakers have launched an investigation into the match over claims that there was an unusual pattern of betting concerning a sending off during the match.

Reports suggest that the bets came from the Liverpool area, where former Tranmere defender Jennings is from, but Boyle has defended his player against any accusation of wrong doing.

He said: “I’d be amazed if Steve got himself involved in anything like that. I was in the dressing room after the match and the player was totally distraught.

“If that wasn’t genuine emotion from him he is a better actor than Laurence Olivier. I think this whole thing is mischief-making.

“I’d be astonished by any allegations or implications.”

The SFA and SPL will have to act quickly with referee Stevie O’Reilly scheduled to be the fourth official at the Hamilton-Celtic match on Saturday and O’Reilly available for Motherwell after a one game suspension against Aberdeen.

Bookies are quick to take notice of any unusual betting trends but it will be interesting to find out if they alerted the authorities before or after the Jennings sending off.

There have been recent incidents in cricket and snooker regarding betting irregularities but with a hundred possible bets in-running during football matches the game is open to risk.

Bookies seem happy to offer all sorts of bets but as a spokesman for the ABB explained any winning bets are immediately treated as suspicious!

Spokesman Alan Alger of Blue Square explained: “If new accounts are opened to bet on a specific market, especially a special market like that, and it ends up actually happening in the game this is seen as suspicious activity outwith the norm.

“Sometimes people accuse bookies of crying foul as soon as they lose money in situations like this but that is not the case. This is not what you would expect and if we suspect anything we are required to alert the ABB.”

A spokesman for the ABB said: “We have received information regarding a bet or bets made during the Motherwell v Hearts game but at this stage it is too early to comment further.”

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