Falling foul of gambling – soccer star is not alone

Specialist lawyers have warned that a high-profile gambling case involving a footballer star is the ‘tip of the iceberg’ of a wider epidemic in society.

The comments came from regional law firm Ellis Jones Solicitors after Brentford FC and England striker Ivan Toney admitted 230 breaches of Football Association (FA) gambling rules.

He has been banned from all football activities for eight months until 16 January 2024, ruling him out of a large part of next season.  Mr Toney was also fined £50,000 and warned as to his future conduct.

Ellis Jones – with more than 170 staff including 23 Partners – has a specialist Sports Law department and a Betting Disputes Team, which has recovered more than £5million for gamblers to date.

Partner Paul Kanolik, from the Betting Disputes Team, said: “This high-profile case has highlighted the strict rules on betting for professional and semi-professional footballers.

“All players are made aware of the rules but with the increase in online betting apps and the constant bombardment of betting adverts on TV and ground advertising, together with shirt sponsorship deals from betting companies, it does not come as a surprise that these charges have been raised and dealt with.

“The education of players will no doubt be highlighted as a result of this case. The FA work tirelessly to educate players but gambling is a culture issue in today’s world.”

He added: “Ivan Toney’s case is the tip of the iceberg and symptomatic of a gambling epidemic emerging in wider society which can affect people from all walks of life.
“Clearly more needs to be done to protect the most vulnerable, and it is important that measures announced in a recent government White Paper about gambling laws result in meaningful changes.”

Mr Toney fell foul of FA Rule E8 which does not permit any participant – player, match official, manager, coach or match observer – operating at Step 4 or below in the National League system to bet, either directly or indirectly, or instruct, permit, cause or enable any person to bet on the result, progress, conduct or any other aspect of, or occurrence in or in connection with, a football match or competition or any other matter concerning or related to football anywhere in the world.

The charges came after the government’s publication of its long-awaited white paper on gambling reforms and the Premier League announcement of a ban on front-of-shirt betting sponsorship from the 2026/27 season.

Ellis Jones specialises in dealing with an extensive range of Sports Law matters, including disciplinary proceedings. Its department is led by Partner David McWilliam.
Its Betting Disputes Team specialises in dealing with gambling claims and complaints to recover monies clients have lost as a result of the failings of betting operators.

Visit https://www.ellisjones.co.uk/personal/sports-law-2/ and https://www.ellisjones.co.uk/personal/betting-and-gaming/ to find out more about the work of its specialist teams.

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