Roy Hodgson sympathises with Newcastle over Sandro Tonali betting investigation

The midfielder was named last week in an Italian betting probe that saw Juventus’ Nicolo Fagioli banned for seven months.

Rachel Steinberg
Friday 20 October 2023 14:58 BST
Crystal Palace boss Roy Hodgson “feels sorry” for Saturday counterpart Eddie Howe (Martin Rickett/PA)
Crystal Palace boss Roy Hodgson “feels sorry” for Saturday counterpart Eddie Howe (Martin Rickett/PA)

Crystal Palace boss Roy Hodgson admitted he “feels sorry” for opponents Newcastle, who could lose summer signing Sandro Tonali to a lengthy ban depending on the outcome of an investigation into alleged betting offences.

Eddie Howe on Friday confirmed his midfielder, who joined in a £55million move from AC Milan this summer, would be available for Saturday’s contest, where the injury-plagued Eagles will be boosted by the return of several key players.

While Hodgson initially claimed not to have “any reaction at all” to the news Tonali could feature, he subsequently expressed some empathy surrounding the situation still unfolding at St James’ Park.

He said: “It’s nothing to do with me. One way or the other, I feel sorry for him, I feel sorry for Newcastle facing this situation.

“It must be a bitter blow to sign somebody that you believe in as much as they obviously do believe in Sandro Tonali, and then to find after paying a lot of money that maybe you can’t use him for a long period of time.

“That must be a very difficult situation for Eddie Howe and [sporting director] Dan Ashworth, for the club to deal with. But it doesn’t affect us one way or the other, if Newcastle want to play him then good luck to him. If they decide they don’t, then that’s their decision.”

Howe has already vowed that Tonali, who is subject to investigation by the Italian Prosecutor’s Office and Italian Football Federation (FIGC) in relation to illegal betting activity, has a future at his club.

Plans are in place for the Premier League to withdraw gambling sponsorship from the front of teams’ matchday shirts from the start of the 2026-2027 season, though it is understood betting companies will still be allowed to advertise on sleeves.

The Eagles previously had a gambling company, W88, as their shirt-front sponsor but signed a multi-year deal with car company Cinch ahead of last season.

Hodgson’s men still wear a betting brand on their sleeves, however, after the club announced a deal with Asian sportsbooks brand Kaiyun Sports in May.

Hodgson said: “We know that gambling is a problem in our society, and we don’t really help it in sport because we promote betting.

“I think it’s a problem that we should take more seriously perhaps than we have done. We’ve certainly made big strides with drugs, with alcohol, maybe gambling and betting will be the next subject to take on because I’m not just talking football, now I’m talking about society in general.

Footballers still sometimes get caught up in it, and unfortunately for them when they do get caught up for it the punishments are very strict

Roy Hodgson

“So it’s not surprising with all the problems that gambling does bring to our society that footballers still sometimes get caught up in it, and unfortunately for them when they do the punishments are very strict.”

Perhaps no one welcomed the international break as much as Hodgson, who had two more players, Jeffrey Schlupp and Jairo Riedewald, forced off in their goalless draw with Nottingham Forest last time out.

The Palace boss should see midfield duo Jefferson Lerma and Cheick Doucoure return to his matchday squad this weekend alongside 19-year-old Brazilian summer signing Matheus Franca, healthy for the first time this season, though it is still too soon for Schlupp and long-term casualties Michael Olise and Eberechi Eze.

Defender James Tomkins is now out with a calf injury.

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