Gordon Taylor confident of integrity despite Andy Mangan betting claims

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Gordon Taylor is confident football's integrity remains intact but has warned it would be wrong to be complacent following claims that players are breaching FA rules by betting on matches in their divisions.

Former Bury player Andy Mangan has claimed he knows of players involved, and he can testify that the Football Association take a particularly dim view of any such activity.

Mangan was given a five-month ban in 2009 after placing a bet of £3,500 on a match involving Bury and Accrington which took place in May 2008. He bet on his club, Bury, to win the match.

Four Accrington players were also banned after betting on their club to lose.

If the claims from Mangan are accurate, it would be troubling news for the Professional Footballers Association, which Taylor serves as chief executive.

Asked whether he thought football matches could be trusted, Taylor said: "I really do.

"But I wouldn't say I'm complacent.

"I believe the integrity is there.

"But you see problems in sports like cricket, and similarly in football you can bet on first scorer, first corner and other things.

"We need to be mindful that all people in football can be vulnerable, just the same as any sporting profession.

"That's why education is vital."

Taylor has previously called for a "zero tolerance" approach to gambling on football, meaning players would be forbidden from placing any bets at all, where the current FA regulations only bar footballers from wagering on any match or competition in which they are participants.

He reasoned that it "might have been seen as a bit hypocritical" of the professional game to take such a stance when it receives financial support from the betting industry, and at a time when football is so popular among gamblers.

"I think the betting industry gets more money from football now than it does from horse-racing," Taylor added.

The PFA have invested in a programme designed to caution young players in particular about the perils of becoming too involved in gambling.

"We are trying to reinforce the message to players regarding the FA rules," said Taylor.

"The same message is going out through the Professional Players Federation, which covers a wide range of sports, just to be mindful really.

"There is a measure of sponsorship there, funding from some of the betting companies to allow that to be done as well.

"It's an education programme aimed at younger players, but all players are able to access it."

The courses are led by Josh Apiafi, a former chief executive of the Professional Jockeys Association.

"They feel they've done well in horse-racing," said Taylor, "and obviously that's why it's being rolled out in other sports."

Mangan, 24, who now plays for Blue Square Premier side Wrexham, suggested in an interview with The Independent that players down the leagues are looking at those on big-money contracts at the top of the game, and wondering how they can achieve similar earnings.

He said: "When you're in that situation you look at the magazines, all the papers, at all the Premier League boys buying all these cars and you think to yourself: 'I'd love that'.

"Maybe they might be good enough to get that, but at the time they're not at the top level. You want it - so how do you get it?"

One fear is that players might become caught up in criminal activity and attempt to beat bookmakers by betting on the minutiae of games, such as betting on the time of the first corner in a match, and then setting out to affect the outcome.

Cricket has been affected by allegations of corruption, but the potential for spot-fixing in English football went largely ignored until recently.

Former Southampton striker Matt Le Tissier revealed in his 2009 autobiography that he had a spread bet on the time of the first throw-in in a 1995 match in which he was playing - only to fail to kick the ball out of play when he had the opportunity.