Banned Brentford striker Ivan Toney diagnosed with gambling addiction
Brentford striker Ivan Toney was given a reduced ban from football because of a diagnosed gambling addiction.
Toney, 27, was banned for eight months for breaking Football Association betting rules – including betting against his own team.
A psychiatry expert who gave evidence to the FA’s regulatory commission diagnosed Toney with a gambling addiction and concluded he needed help.
As a result, the commission reduced an 11-month sanction by three months.
In its written reasons explaining its sanction, published on Friday, the commission said Toney had admitted repeatedly lying during his initial interviews with the FA.
It added he had since ceased gambling on football, though not on other sports, and is “determined to address his gambling problem with therapy”.
The FA initially wanted to impose a 15-month ban on Toney because he attempted to conceal his betting, knowing it was against FA rules.
This included betting through third parties and deleting relevant messages from his mobile phone, it said, then knowingly giving “clearly false answers” during his interviews with the FA.
The commission did not uphold all of the FA’s claims.
His ban was reduced to 11 months given he pleaded guilty to all 232 charges before being further reduced to reflect his diagnosed addiction.
Psychiatrist Dr Philip Hopley twice interviewed Toney before his diagnosis and the commission said his evidence was “well reasoned and highly persuasive”.
Brentford have said they will support Toney with his addiction.
“The club will now be doing everything possible to provide support to Ivan and his family to deal with the issues raised in this case,” they said in a statement.
“We consider this matter closed and look forward to welcoming Ivan back to training in September.”
The Professional Footballers’ Association said it offered “significant practical and confidential support to players” struggling with addiction to gambling.
“It is crucial that players are properly supported in taking the steps to seek help, and that processes covering punishments for gambling in football take proper account of the wellbeing of players”, it said in a statement.
What were the charges?
Toney admitted to 232 breaches of FA betting rules over a period of five seasons between February 2017 and January 2021.
During this time, he was a registered player at Newcastle and Peterborough as well as spending time on loan at several other clubs.
Of those 232 breaches:
- 126 bets were in respect of matches in competitions in which Toney’s club at that time participated in.
- Of those 126, 29 were in respect of the club Toney was playing for at the time.
- Of those 29, 16 were on his own team to win 15 different matches. Toney played in 11 of those matches.
- Of those 29, the remaining 13 were on Toney’s team to lose. Toney did not play in any of those matches.
- Of the 126 bets, 15 were placed on Toney to score. They were initiated at a time when it was not public knowledge that he was starting or playing in the relevant fixtures.
The regulatory commission ruled Toney’s case was not one of match-fixing.
“There is no evidence that Mr Toney did or was even in a position to influence his own team to lose when he placed bets against them winning – he was not in the squad or eligible to play at the time.”
As part of his punishment Toney was also fined £50,000 and warned about his future conduct.
His suspension started immediately, but he can return to training with Brentford four months before it ends on 17 September. He will not be allowed to play again until 17 January 2024.
He scored 20 goals in 33 Premier League appearances this season and made his England debut as a substitute in the Euro 2024 qualifying win against Ukraine in March, having received his first call-up to Gareth Southgate’s squad last September.
Southgate said it was important to support Toney during his ban, adding it “won’t have any bearing” on his international prospects when it ends.