Dismissal follows suspension
AFC Wimbledon, a third-tier English soccer club, fired manager Wally Downes on Sunday following charges from the Football Association (FA) that he bet on matches. The club had previously suspended Downes indefinitely on September 25, 2019.
The coaching change was approved by the club’s board. In a statement, AFC Wimbledon said:
the boards believe that a change of first-team manager is the best option to help the club maintain its recent upturn in performances.”
Placed eight bets, three this year
Downes wagered on eight different soccer matches dating back to 2013. He placed five bets on matches between November 30, 2013 and January 30, 2014. Fast forward to this year, when he made three more bets between March 16, 2019 and July 12, 2019.
The Football Association has not provided details as to the bets. It is unknown if Downes bet on matches in which his own team played.
During the earlier time period, Downes had a short stint as coach with Queens Park Rangers. He placed the latest bets while manager of AFC Wimbledon, a role he had held since December 2018.
Football Association rules state, unequivocally, that anyone involved in any of the leagues it oversees is
prohibited from betting, either directly or indirectly, on any football match or competition that takes place anywhere in the world.”
Football Association suspended Downes this month
As mentioned earlier, AFC Wimbledon originally announced that it suspended Downes on September 25. The suspension was open-ended, “giving time for the club and Dons Trust boards to look at the allegations more closely and make a further announcement in due course.”
On October 18, the FA fined Downes £3,000 ($3,898) and suspended him for 28 days after he admitted that he violated FA betting rules. His suspension was to end on November 14.
In Sunday’s announcement, the club gave kudos to Downes for his work with a young group of players and wished him well. It added, though, that it would not make any more statements about his firing or the betting charges.
Assistant manager Glyn Hodges takes the reins of the club in Downes’ place.
Other soccer stars recently punished for betting
This follows a pair of betting punishments handed down this summer in the Football Association.
Former Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge was charged with eleven counts of providing inside information to people for the purposes of betting, going back to November 2018. An independent commission found him guilty of two of the charges in which he told his brother, Leon, to bet on him joining Sevilla FC. He never did end up moving to that team.
In June, former Salford City director Paul Scholes was fined £8,000 ($10,394) by the FA for placing 140 bets on soccer matches from August 17, 2015 to January 12, 2019. Some of the games involved friends, former teammates, and business partners of Scholes.
Scholes apologized for the infractions, saying that he was not aware of the outright ban on betting. He thought that because he was not personally involved with the games, that it was permitted. The FA implemented more stringent betting policies in 2014.