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Betting on Football in England and Scotland: Joey Barton – A Return To Work But For How Long?

For many, yesterday marked the return to work after the Christmas break. A time to review goals, dust off gym memberships or perhaps start a new job.

Into this latter category falls Joey Barton who it has been announced will re-join Burnley FC after a short sojourn in Glasgow with Rangers FC.

Barton joined Rangers in May of last year and played only 8 games before leaving the club by mutual agreement after only 6 months as a result of a training ground altercation following Rangers 5-1 defeat to Celtic in September last year.

Shortly before his departure from Rangers it was announced that Barton was to be charged by the Scottish Football Association (“SFA”) with placing bets on 44 matches between 1 July and 15 September 2016 in breach of SFA Disciplinary Rule 31.

Following the SFA’s decision to charge Barton we published a detailed review of the rules concerning football players betting on football in England and Scotland last year.

Barton admitted the SFA charges and was subsequently given a one match ban despite the SFA’s own guidelines suggesting a 3 match minimum ban for lower entry offences.

The decision by Burnley to sign Barton may therefore come as a surprise to some given the announcement before Christmas that he is to be charged by the English FA with misconduct in relation to betting. The FA stated:

It is alleged that between 26 March 2006 and 13 May 2016, [Barton] placed 1,260 bets on the result, progress, conduct or any other aspect of, or occurrence in, football matches or competitions in breach of FA Rule E8.”

It is reported that the FA has brought its charges as a result of a widespread investigation into Barton’s gambling history following a report by one of the betting companies involved. As we have previously reported Barton is by no means the first player charged with offences concerning betting on football matches however the matches in question date back over 10 years and are more numerous than anything seen before. As for sanctions:

  • On 20 February 2016, the Norwich City striker Kyle Lafferty was fined £23,000 by the FA for placing a bet on a match;

  • In March 2014, Dan Gosling, now of AFC Bournemouth, was fined £30,000 by the FA for “multiple breaches” of the FA rules;

  • On 14 August 2013, Cameron Jerome, now of Stoke City, was fined £50,000 for a “number of breaches” of the FA rules;

  • On 4 June 2013, the England forward Andros Townsend was fined £18,000 by the FA and suspended for four months, though three of those months were suspended until 1 July 2016.

In light of the above sanctions one must question how Barton would be able to escape with anything less than a lengthy ban and a significant fine. This is especially true if bets were placed after the change in the FA rules which came into effect on 1 August 2014 which would appear to be the case.

Barton has until 5 January 2017 to respond to the FA’s charges.

© Copyright 2023 Squire Patton Boggs (US) LLPNational Law Review, Volume VII, Number 4

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