The Football Association issued the written reasons for Evan Toney’s eight-month suspension from football and all football-related activities on Friday morning. The 25-page document details the scale of the attacker’s gambling activity.
Tony was originally charged by the Football Association on November 16 with 232 alleged breaches of betting rules between February 2017 and January 2021. An additional 30 charges were added a month later.
During that period, Tony was initially signed to Newcastle United but spent time on loan at Scunthorpe United and Wigan Athletic. Peterborough United signed him on a permanent deal in August 2018 and two years later he joined Brentford for around £5m.
Last week, the Football Association announced that an independent regulatory committee had suspended the striker until January 2024 after he admitted violating football betting rules 232 times while the Football Association withdrew 30 times.
It is revealed that Tony:
- He placed 126 bets on matches in a competition in which his club participated or was eligible to participate
- He placed 13 bets on his team to lose in seven different matches
- He placed 16 bets on his team winning 15 different matches
- Before he lied to the Football Association when he told them in an interview “I don’t bet on football”
- He admitted when he was questioned that he used other people’s accounts to bet on football
- He was diagnosed with a gambling addiction
- He would have been banned for 15 months if he had not pleaded guilty, and if it had not been for the mitigation
What did Tony do?
To fully understand what happened, we need to go through a quick timeline of events. The process began last May when the FA asked to meet Tony. They spoke to him for the first time on July 20 and he handed over his mobile phone. In September and October, the striker provided the FA with revised bank statements for two separate accounts.
The FA interviewed Tony a second time on 10 October and requested uncut copies of his bank statements which were submitted two days later. On 26 October, it was confirmed that Tony had access to a third bank account and the FA requested that he be provided with data on that as well.
After gathering all this information, the FA decided to charge Tony in November with 232 violations of Rule E8, which prohibits people involved in football from betting on the sport. An additional 30 fees were added after a month.
On 17 February, Tony admitted 190 breaches of the FA’s betting rules and contested 72 counts. Tony still played in Brentford’s next 13 matches with his final appearance against Liverpool on 6 May.
In March, the FA withdrew 30 charges and proceeded with the remaining 42. On 21 April, Tony admitted these 42 counts and the following day scored in Brentford’s 1-1 draw with Aston Villa. It should be noted that he initially denied these accusations as he did not believe he was responsible for them but pleaded guilty to end the proceedings as soon as possible.
It turns out that 126 of the bets Tony had placed were on matches in competitions in which his club was participating or eligible to participate. The written reasons state that 50 of those 126 offenses are the most serious.
A total of 29 bets or instructions were placed to bet on clubs that Tony is registered with or on loan with. Tony placed 16 of those 29 bets on his team winning 15 different matches. He played in 11 of those matches and was an unused substitute in another.
The other 13 bets have been placed by Tony on his side losing in seven different games between 22 August 2017 and 3 March 2018. This covers the period of time the striker was at Newcastle and then sent out on loan to Wigan and Scunthorpe. Of these, 11 of the bets Tony placed were against Newcastle and two related to a match between Wigan and Aston Villa. Tony didn’t play in any of these matches – that’s a crucial detail you’ll get to later.
Tony also placed 15 bets on himself to score in the nine games he played. Those bets were placed before the crowd knew they would be in the match day squad. There were six bets on certain events within a game Tony also did not play, while there was one count of passing inside information after telling a friend he was going to start in his club’s next match.
After Tony pleaded guilty to 232 counts, there were some other major issues raised at the disciplinary hearing he attended on May 16. whether he has bet through third parties to hide his gambling activity from the Football Association or to hide it from his parents, whether he has deleted messages from his phone relating to football betting and if he has a second phone.
Did he know the rules?
This question was at the heart of the entire investigation. Tony’s lawyers argued that he only became fully aware of the FA’s rules on betting after joining Brentford in September 2020. Tony watched a video in Brentford and claimed “at that point I began to appreciate that there was a problem with the bets I had previously been placed in football matches.” foot.”
In Tony’s first interview with the FA in July, he was asked what he knew about the rules and replied “You can’t bet on football”. The follow-up question tried to determine how long he was aware of the rules. “You (the FA) used to come to Peterborough when I was there to say you can’t bet on football,” Tony said. Tony said afterwards that he was “sure” that the FA visited Peterborough and Brentford before the start of each season to provide education on the rules of betting.
It turns out that Tony’s cousin was accused of breaching the FA’s betting rules in 2017 as well. During interviews and interrogations, Tony said he was aware of the charges against his cousin and that they related to football betting.
Based on this evidence, the Independent Regulatory Commission came to the conclusion that Tony was aware of the rules when he broke them.
What was Tony’s argument?
When Tony was interviewed by the FA in July and October, he denied that he bet on football and that he used other people’s accounts to bet. When he was cross-examined at his disciplinary hearing by Brian O’Neil, the football legal advisor, he admitted that he had lied.
During cross-examination, a message he sent to a person was shown saying “What app did you bet on your phone this time?” Later in these letters, Tony says “It can’t be one of them in my name.”
O’Neill then asked Tony if he had used other people’s betting accounts and the attacker said “That’s right”.
The next important part of the case revolved around the exact nature of Tony’s attempts to conceal betting activity. Was he trying to hide his behavior from the Football Association or from his parents?
Tony’s defense was that he used other people’s accounts to reduce the amount of betting activity that was visible on his bank statements delivered to his home and would have caused concern to his parents, Evan Tony Snr and Lisa Shaw.
The committee did not accept this argument and said he was betting on other people’s accounts to hide what he was doing from the Football Association.
The Football Association alleged that Tony deleted text messages between him and another person prior to one of his interviews because they were relevant to the investigation. The panel ruled in Tony’s favor and said that if he wanted to hide any messages he would “probably delete all messages relating to football betting”.
Tony opened an account with William Hill on February 27, 2017, made 4 bets and then closed it on the same day. The FA argued that he had tried to hide his identity by using a fake date of birth and phone number. The panel found that Tony had opened it under his own name, with his private bank account details and the correct postal code, which did not “suggest an intent to conceal identity”.
The Football Association wanted to find out if Tony had another mobile phone that he hadn’t handed over to them either. Tony denied owning a second phone but admitted to using someone else’s device to bet. During the hearing, the FA suggested that there was a third phone that was not Tony’s phone he handed over or the other person’s phone. The committee said the FA case was “ambiguous” and the case was dropped.
Was there any mitigation?
There was quite a bit of loosening, which is what led to the final length of Tony’s suspension.
Dr. Philip Hubley, a consultant psychiatrist, interviewed Toni twice and came to the conclusion in his report that Toni “has a clear history of gambling addiction”. He also said that Tony needed professional help. He also said that Tony had an impulsive/compulsive disorder. These are disorders in which a person fails to resist an impulse, urge, or temptation.
The committee accepted the fact that Tony was addicted to gambling, which was highlighted by the fact that he gambled on other sports and casino games. However, he stopped playing football.
Tony will seek therapy to address the problem.
Other mitigating factors were the fact that it was not a “match-fixing case”, Tony’s genuine remorse, his good previous record and his relative youth at the time of the bets.
How long can the ban be?
In a worst-case scenario for the striker, he could have been suspended for the entirety of the 2023-24 season and missed the next summer’s European Championship. The commission was prepared to grant him a 15-month ban if he had not pleaded guilty to the charges.
Tony’s guilty plea meant the ban was initially reduced to 11 months. The panel then considered the racketeer’s age at the time he committed these breaches of the rules, the “genuine remorse he expressed” and Dr. Hobley’s diagnosis of a gambling addiction. After evaluating all of these factors, they decided on an eight-month ban.
The FA then argued in favor of a ban starting after the summer, which would have increased the ban to cover most of the next season. This was not accepted by the committee.
While he won’t play again until January next year, that’s far less time than Tony could have spent on the sidelines.
What did Brentford say?
Brentford issued a statement on their website after the written reasons were published saying that “Evan and Brentford accept that crimes have been committed and that penalties are inevitable”.
The Committee noted that none of the charges related to events in which Ivan could adversely affect his team. The club will now do all it can to provide support to Ivan and his family in dealing with the issues raised in this case. Conversations regarding this topic and all matters related to the case will be kept confidential in order to protect the player and his family.
“We consider this to be done and look forward to welcoming Ivan back to training in September and seeing him represent Brentford in the Premier League in January.”
(Photo: Harriet Lander/Getty Images)