Soham Town Rangers say they support the investigation by the Football Association which found their management team and three players guilty of betting breaches – as a host of other Non-League participants are set to go under the microscope.
Players, managers, club employees and match officials across the top eight tiers of English football have been prohibited from betting on any football matter worldwide since 2014 with those at Step 5 and below not allowed to bet on a match or competition in which they are involved or can influence or pass inside information for betting.
According to The Non-League Paper on Sunday, it is understood betting concerns involving individuals at the BetVictor Isthmian League North were raised after a bookmaker offered odds for their pre-season friendly at Newmarket Town, which was then investigated by The FA.
Participants can be suspended for up to six months for a bet placed on their own team to win or up to 12 months for a bet placed on a particular occurrence (known as a spot bet), not involving the player who bet.
Over six months and potentially a life ban can be imposed for a bet placed on their own team to lose or spot bet involving the player who bet.
The FA fined Soham manager Robbie Mason and assistant Erkan Okay £300 each for breaching FA Rule E8 regarding their betting activities between August 9, 2014 and December 22, 2018 and again from August 10, 2014 to August 12, 2017.
Soham striker Matthew Allan has been suspended from all football-related activity for six months and handed a £250 fine, having placed 254 bets on football matches between January 27, 2017 and November 3, 2019.
Teammate Callum Russell, also found in breach of FA Rule E8 in respect of 1,593 bets placed on football matches between August 27, 2015 and October 28, 2019, was handed a two-month suspension from all football-related activity, with the last month suspended for two years and a £100 fine.
Midfielder Marcus Hall was given a £4,400 fine after placing 6,314 bets on football matches between August 1, 2014 and September 10, 2019.
While Soham have supported The FA’s investigation, they also say they will support the members of their club found guilty.
Vice chairman Mark Goldsack told The NLP: “We’ve got no problem with The FA in the way they have conducted it. These individuals, regrettably, have brought it on themselves.
“They’ve made a mistake, everyone’s entitled to make a mistake. We’re throwing nobody under the bus. If it was to come back to our attention that they’ve made the same mistake again, I think we could honestly say that would be a very different situation.
“There was an element of shock that people hadn’t adhered to the rules. I don’t think they took them seriously. Betting can be addictive, in an era which is very open about mental health issues, as a club we’ve offered our players, if they think they need support, we will support them.
“We have a major player meeting just before the start of the season. We bring the Cambridgeshire FA in and they talk about tweaks to rules and it was discussed then.
“Players come in to the club during the season so not everybody was at that meeting. We make sure there’s a little bit of an onboarding exercise for players that come in and we make sure they’re told this. But ultimately it’s up to them to decide whether they’ll adhere to the rules.”
These latest revelations come after Chatham Town’s Byron Walker was handed an 18-month suspension from all football and football-related activity plus a £500 fine, which includes betting profit in January.
All published on the FA’s website, Lee Bircham, assistant manager at Berkhamsted, was also suspended last month from all football activity for 18 months with 11 months suspended for two years and a £500 fine along with ex-Ebbsfleet defender Anthony Acheampong, who was fined £450.
Gainsborough Trinity midfielder Shane Clarke was fined £500 in respect of 2,687 bets placed between April 11, 2015 to August 6, 2019.
Four Spennymoor Town players; Adam Boyes, Glen Taylor, Stephen Brogan and Ryan Hall have all admitted breaches of FA Rule E8 and are awaiting paper hearings. The same applies for Stocksbridge Park Steels manager Kurtis Turner, Great Wakering Rovers boss Stephen Butterworth and Frickley Athletic defender Todd Jordan.
Meanwhile, Gareth Bull, chairman of Sherwood Colliery has also been charged with a betting breach in respect of six bets he placed on football between October 20, 2016 and November 1, 2019.
Make sure you get your copy of The Non-League Paper on Sunday for the latest news and action from across Non-League over the last seven days.
As well as exclusive match reports and pictures from all of Saturday’s fixtures in the Vanarama National League, the BetVictor-Sponsored Isthmian League, Southern League and Northern Premier League, The Non-League Paper’s live coverage extends all the way to Steps 5 and 6.