IRISH LEAGUE: Crewe Utd call for education as players hit with 13 month ban

Crewe United's Ciaran Burns in action against Warrenpoint.

Picture: Philip Magowan / PressEye
Crewe United's Ciaran Burns in action against Warrenpoint. Picture: Philip Magowan / PressEye

Crewe United have called on the Irish FA to improve player education around betting rules after five of their players were banned for over a year.

The players involved; Patrick Fox, Michael Henderson, Ciaran Burns, Ciaran Carson and Pearse Devine, were charged with bringing the game into disrepute in relation to bets placed on their Irish Cup sixth round tie against Warrenpoint Town, which Crewe went on to lose 5-0 on 4th February 2017.

After an Irish FA disciplinary hearing yesterday (Wednesday), the players were fined £400 each and were banned from all affiliated football until 31st May 2018.

“Prior to the hearing all players admitted to a breach of Article 17 of the Articles of Association, however their case was that all five players had acted independently in placing bets,” read an IFA statement.

“The members of the committee, having considered the written and oral submissions from the club and the players concerned, were not convinced that the players had acted independently and feel that the IFA rules in relation to betting are clear.

“As a result the committee decided to sanction each player with a fine of £400 and impose a suspension from all affiliated football until 31 May 2018.

“Should the fine remain outstanding at this time the suspension shall continue until the fine is paid in full. The suspension will commence on Monday 17 April 2017.

“The committee wishes to express its concern at the negative impact betting on games can have on the game and urges all clubs, officials and players to familiarise themselves with the rules and regulations in relation to football.

“The players have the right of appeal under Article 14 of the Articles of Association.”

The club has now expressed its desire for the IFA to take preventative action.

“The players admitted to placing bets on the game at the outset of the investigations and did not seek to abdicate responsibility for their actions,” said a statement on the Crewe United website. “It has also been acknowledged that player education around the subject of betting, and how information is disseminated to them by all clubs and the governing body could be improved. As a club we hope action is taken by the IFA in this regard and would support any initiatives to assist players in their awareness of such matters.

“This game was a momentous occasion for the club having reached the sixth round for the first time in our history. As a club we were deeply disappointed to be in the position of dealing with this matter, however, we hope that this case will help all players to understand their responsibilities.”

After Crewe United were made aware of allegations of suspicious betting against five of their players, the players involved were immediately suspended pending the outcome of an internal and IFA investigation.

“Following a meeting of the IFA Disciplinary Committee, the club has been completely exonerated of having any knowledge or involvement in this matter,” said the Crewe United statement. “The club fully co-operated with the IFA as part of their investigation and at no point was accused of any wrong doing.

“The players involved admitted their error in betting on the match and have apologised to the club, their fellow players and the IFA for their misjudgment. Of the five players charged with bringing the game into disrepute by betting on the match, only two participated in the game. At no point were the players accused of, or charged with, match fixing as had previously been reported by certain sections of the media.

“As a club we will continue to move forward with our goal of continuous improvement on the pitch as well as our proud reputation of charity work and building bridges in our community.”

There is no suggestion that anyone from Warrenpoint was involved in any wrongdoing.