Bet you can’t get round this…

Date: 22nd January 2022

Bet you can’t get round this…

It’s a fact of life – footballers like a punt.

In fact, it is such an accepted part of the game that the fact it is not allowed seems a bit absurd. Absurd? Really?

Well let’s look at this. You only find out if players have been betting if they get caught. As long as they do not get caught it is all a bit don’t ask, don’t tell.

Fans hate the discovery that their players have made bets against their own team. So, they should. The idea that a player shall take the field of play, try to win but know that a loss means they can still get away with some form of a win is sickening. People pay hard earned money to watch that spectacle and so get a but aerated when it is found to be corrupt.

And so, the news that new Morton boss, Dougie Imrie along with 13 other people in the game – from a variety of lower league clubs – are getting hammered for betting on the game is hardly the type of news that sits in the welcome column of our day and daily.

And yet, despite not liking it, I have a great deal of sympathy for the players.

Firstly, there seems to be quite a few “easy” targets here. Aside from the high profile gambling addiction cases that include the self-proclamations of former high profile players, there seems to be a disproportionate number of lower league clubs implicated. Nobody is going to tell me that there are not players in “bigger” clubs who have not transgressed. There must be players at the highest level guilty of this crime – why do we not hear of the star striker of the club trying to get into the top 4, being charged or the keeper whose club is sliding towards a relegation battle at the bottom of the Premiership being sent a compliance officer letter with bringing the game into disrepute for the gambling they indulge in?

Do I really need to wonder why?

Secondly, there seems to be no proactive application of the policy. It all appears to be the equivalent of a super grass hotline and when somebody decides enough is enough – whoever that may be – a report is filed and the authorities act. If it is wrong to bet on any game – as the rules clearly state – then there should be better policing. People should be brought to book through the authorities and not because of some type of reactive grass them up programme. It is 2022 and we have had “scandals” of this nature for years. We have had people admit about card schools in teams, betting being an open secret in dressing rooms and problems identified within teams which have never been dealt with properly. It is an absurdity that in such a blatant breaking of the rules that authorities have not got a better programme for the discovery, punishment and rooting it out than hoping someone breaks their silence.

But there is perhaps a very good reason why.

Given the Cinch/Donald Park debacle over sponsorship, the SPL and SFA have so many tie ins with betting companies, the clubs have so many sponsorship deals with betting companies and the player spend most of their Saturdays surrounded by adverts for the product that resistance is futile. The authorities are promoting the damn process so why would it then say on the one hand, take the money from these companies but DON’T ever buy their product?

Who would sponsor them then?

And that is why it needs to stop. Players are being set up by the game to fail. If this is a problem  which is rife and worthy of being dealt with properly then it requires exactly that – proper attention with the response being rife – that means policing of it, punishment of it and the removal of endorsement of it.  And what are the odds on that happening…

Bet you, it won’t …

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