Stan Hey: A betting footballer is a dead cert

Bookies and football go hand in glove as a player admits throwing a match

Related Topics

You earn more than £300,000 a month. You have a big house with the mortgage paid off, and you have four or five upmarket cars and an indoor swimming pool. The wife spends a bit on clothes and jewellery but you still have about £250,000 a month to play with.

If you're a modern footballer, the chances are that, apart from playing golf, you will have a few bets on the races. And you know a bookie anyway. He's likely to be a working-class lad like yourself, who's earned himself a few bob. The nobs who rule the game warn you about dodgy associations, as if they themselves are paragons of behaviour. So what's the problem if your bookie mate offers you the best odds? So what if you lose, and he asks a little favour from you?

The revelation at a seminar last week by the Sporting Chance Clinic, a support group for athletes with a gambling or drug addiction, that a footballer's gambling debts had obliged him to obey a bookie's wishes by getting himself sent off and three colleagues booked to enable the bookie to win a "card-count" bet, has prompted a moral outcry, with much of the bile aimed at over-paid Premier League players.

The suggestion is that gambling addiction and dangerous liaisons with bookmakers are rife, and that a higher percentage of footballers are problem gamblers than the general public itself. So we are asked to accept this modern portrait of footballers with too much money and too little to do with it.

The assumption here is that there existed in football a prelapsarian age in which players were oblivious to financial reward. But as early as 1912 there was a case of what turned out to have been a fake letter from a "goalkeeper" offering to "throw" a 1912 cup tie in exchange for £15. The conspirator proved not be a player, but the fact that bribery was thinkable rather debunks the "age of innocence" theory. Petty scandals have dogged football since, but the real shock to both authorities and fans came in the match-fixing revelations of the early 1960s. Three Sheffield Wednesday players were convicted of taking bribes, jailed and banned for life. But all reports of the time suggested that another dozen might have been involved and that there was insufficient evidence to bring charges.

The theoretical basis of this corruption was that the players were vulnerable because they did not earn enough, the complete counter-argument to the current malaise which is that they earn too much. It is true that the mechanisms of spread-betting and the "win on losers" culture of the exchanges make modern betting more hazardous, and that it is much harder to keep private.

But betting was rife during the 1970s, when one England international engineered a transfer to pay off his debts, while another regularly collected a few grand at his agent's office on his way to the racecourse. Social drug-taking and heavy boozing afflicted the 1980s and 1990s.

Now we have all three: access to easy money, mingling with the wrong people and footballers with a lifestyle that leaves them with time on their hands and little knowledge of how to use it. That a few should fall foul of this is alarming, but it's as old as the hills.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Packaging Operatives

£7 - £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for two indivi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee / Graduate Helpdesk Analyst

£20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly reputable business is looking to rec...

Recruitment Genius: Estimator

£28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is a major supplier of buil...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer

£28000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

Read Next

The Top Ten: Words In Christmas Carols That Ought To Be Revived

John Rentoul
Polish minister Rafal Trazaskowski (second from right)  

Poland is open to dialogue but EU benefits restrictions are illegal and unfair

Rafal Trzaskowski
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas