An investigation into a betting scandal has led to charges against four players accusing them of staking thousands of pounds on their own team to lose. A fifth player has also been charged by the Football Association for breaching betting rules over the same game – Accrington Stanley v Bury in League Two in May last year.
The FA have not brought match-fixing charges – such accusations are extremely difficult to prove – but the players could face lengthy suspensions and perhaps even life bans if they are found guilty.
The four players then at Accrington Stanley were Jay Harris, David Mannix, Robert Williams and captain Peter Cavanagh. Andrew Mangan, who was at Bury, has been charged with betting on a victory for his own team which is also against FA rules.
Both Harris and Cavanagh played in the game, the last of the 2007/2008 season. It ended 2-0 to Bury. The tie was settled by two first-half goals from the Bury striker Andy Bishop, the first of which was a penalty, after Nicky Adams was crudely brought down by Stanley's Phil Edwards. The second was a strike from distance.
An FA statement said: "All five are alleged to have placed bets on Bury to win this match. Mannix is alleged to have placed stakes to the value of approximately £4,000; Mangan £3,500; Harris £2,000; Williams £1,000; and Cavanagh on a £5 accumulator."
The FA was alerted after bookmakers in the north-west reported unusual betting patterns in the lead-up to the match with higher than usual amounts being staked in particular areas of the country. A lengthy investigation has uncovered enough evidence to bring the charges. Harris has also been charged in relation to betting on a game involving his new club and another two League Two fixtures.
Cavanagh has also been charged with further breaches in relation to his betting on another Accrington match in which he played and on a number of other League Two matches.
All five have until 23 April to respond to the charges.
Leighton McGivern, also registered with Accrington at the time of the game, was charged last month with failure to provide the FA with information requested during the course of the investigation. He has denied the charge.