Charges of misconduct
In April the English Football Association issued a statement saying that soccer icon Paul Scholes was facing betting misconduct charges. The statement read: “Paul Scholes has been charged with misconduct in relation to the FA’s betting rules. It is alleged he placed 140 bets on football matches, contrary to FA rule E8, between August 17, 2015 and January 12, 2019. He has until April 26, 2019 to respond to the charge.”
This rule states that anyone who has an involvement in a game cannot place any bets relating to “the result, progress, conduct or any other aspect of, or occurrence in or in connection with, a football match or competition.” This includes games from across the world, as well as markets relating to team selection, player transfers and managerial appointments.
During this four-year period, Scholes was a part-owner of Salford City – a non-league team. This was before he took up the managerial reigns of Oldham Football Club in February 2019 for a short time.
When he became the Oldham manager, he resigned from his position as a Salford City director, but still retained his 10% ownership stake in the football club. The FA had no issue with Scholes becoming the Oldham manager despite his Salford stake.
He spent only 31 days at Oldham, then resigned claiming he was in an “untenable” position. The team won only a single game of the seven fixtures while he was manager and he was struggling with the club owners interfering in team matters.
Scholes hit with fine
Scholes has now admitted to breaking the FA betting rules and has been fined £8,000. The FA issued him a warning about potential similar offenses in the future.
He gave a statement about his wrongdoing. He said: “I would like to apologize and I understand and fully accept the fine imposed by the FA. It was a genuine mistake and was not done with any deliberate intention to flout the rules.
“I wrongly believed that as long as there was no personal connection between me and any of the matches that I bet upon, then there would be no issue. However, I understand now that this is not the case and I should have taken steps to verify this at the time.”
Details have emerged about some of the bets that were made. Eight of the bets were on his old club, Manchester United, at a time when his former teammates and fellow co-owners of Salford City, Nicky Butt and Ryan Giggs, were working for the club. When another former teammate and fellow part owner of Salford City, Gary Neville, was the Valencia manager, Scholes made a bet on Valencia beating Barcelona. He also made eight bets on FA Cup matches, but all of these were after Salford City had been knocked out of the competition.
According to the findings of the regulatory commission, there was no evidence that Scholes had influenced any of those fixtures. In total, the bets he made totaled £26,159 and he made a profit of £5,831.
Who is Paul Scholes?
Scholes is a legend in English soccer. For many years he was one of the best midfielders in the game, playing 499 times for Manchester United from 1993 until 2011 and scoring 107 goals in that time. He retiring temporarily in 2011 then came back in 2012 and played in a further 33 games before retiring permanently in 2013.
Between 1997 and 2004 Scholes won 66 caps for the England team, scoring 14 goals. Many of the game’s leading players say that Scholes was the best midfielder of his generation. He came through the Manchester United youth system on a famous team that included David Beckham, Nicky Butt, Ryan Giggs, and Gary Neville.
During his football career with Manchester United, Scholes won 11 Premier League titles, five Community Shields, three FA Cups, two League Cups, two Champions League cups, a FIFA World Club Cup and an Intercontinental Cup. He was inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame in 2008.
Gambling in football
There have been a number of high-profile cases of footballers breaking gambling rules, and a lot of top players have struggled with gambling addiction.
Joey Barton has long been a controversial figure in English soccer. He got an 18-month ban from the game in April 2017 for numerous gambling offenses. This effectively put an end to Barton’s career after the FA found that he had made more than 1,250 wagers on football games over the years.
While accepting his suspension, Barton said that gambling is deeply rooted in professional football and large numbers of players regularly gamble on the sport.