Ivan Toney, a 27-year-old striker for Brentford, was given a reduced ban from football due to a diagnosed gambling addiction. Toney had initially been banned for 11 months for breaking Football Association (FA) betting rules – including betting against his own team – but the ban was reduced to eight months after a psychiatry expert gave evidence to the FA’s regulatory commission and diagnosed Toney with a gambling addiction. The commission noted that Toney had admitted to repeatedly lying during his initial interviews with the FA, had since ceased gambling on football, and was determined to address his problem with therapy.
The FA had 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, as well as knowingly giving false answers during his interviews with the FA. However, the commission did not uphold all of the FA’s claims.
Toney admitted to 232 breaches of FA betting rules over a period of five seasons between February 2017 and January 2021. 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 on his own team to win 15 different matches, of which he played in 11. The remaining 13 were on Toney’s team to lose, and he did not play in any of those matches. Additionally, 15 bets were placed on Toney to score, which 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.
As part of his punishment, Toney was 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.
The Professional Footballers’ Association said it offered “significant practical and confidential support to players” struggling with addiction to gambling. England manager Gareth Southgate also said it was important to support Toney during his ban, adding it “won’t have any bearing” on his international prospects when it ends.