Investigation into manager 'who bet £12m in year'

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As the Football Association announced yesterday that it will investigate allegations that four Premiership managers have had bets on top-flight matches, which is against FA rules, a major bookmaking firm denied the gamblers in question had done anything wrong.

The original allegations were made by a former employee of the Gibraltar-based bookmaker, Victor Chandler, and included a claim that one manager gambled £12m on a variety of sports bets in one year alone, racking up losses of £415,000.

The bookmaker's lawyers gained a High Court injunction on Wednesday evening prohibiting the identification of the managers, and some players, named by the former employee.

There is no suggestion that any manager has bet against his own team, nor indeed even on any games in which his own side was involved. But section eight of the FA rules, governing conduct, explicitly prohibits managers, players and officials from gambling on competitions in which they are involved. "We will investigate these reports to see if there has been any breach of our regulations," an FA spokesman said.

But Max Clifford, who has held a PR brief for Chandler for several years, told The Independent last night that none of the managers who may be clients of Chandler - and he declined to be specific - have bet with Chandler on football. "A lot of Victor's clients are rich, and you'd expect client confidentiality for them," he said.

He added that in seeking the injunction, Chandler had persuaded the judge that there was no football betting involved, and hence no wrongdoing and no reason for exposure of identities in any public interest.

It is possible that the FA might ask Chandler for information but he is under no obligation to provide any details of clients or bets. Unlike the betting exchange, Betfair, Chandler's company has no "memorandum of understanding" with the FA to assist in such cases.

The only way in which the FA will be able to take its investigation forward is to obtain evidence of wrongdoing, which would then allow it to question any alleged offender and perhaps seek access to financial records. There is nothing preventing managers betting, even in millions, as long as it is not related in any way to their clubs.

Separate from the case above, the FA is still pursuing another investigation into allegations of improper betting, surrounding Harry Redknapp's return to management at Portsmouth from Southampton in December last year.

An unprecedented £16.7m was wagered on Betfair alone on that, with gamblers collectively pocketing £864,000 winnings.

Under the terms of Betfair's memorandum of understanding with the FA, Betfair gave the FA records of transactions on that market.

The FA has spent eight months trying to establish whether anyone connected to football bet on the outcome or profited from inside information."It's complex, and ongoing," a spokesman said.