Free Ivan Toney

Why the Premier League's punishment of Toney is misguided 🔒

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Last week, the English FA revealed the exact reasons for having suspended Brentford striker Ivan Toney from “all football-related activity” for eight months for breaches of the FA’s Betting Rules.

The English international was hit with the suspension and a hefty £50,000 fine earlier this month after having placed 232 bets between February 2017 and January 2021, a time during which Toney was on loan from Newcastle United at Wigan Athletic and Scunthorpe United, before permanently joining the Bees in 2020.

Of the hundreds of bets Toney placed during this time:

  • 29 were involving clubs he was registered with or on loan at during the time

  • 13 of those were against his own team, although Toney did not play in any of those games

This is not a case of match-fixing, but rather Toney betting on his team to lose when he was sidelined. Ivan Toney was betting on himself

Upping the ante

The 27-year-old also reportedly lied to investigators (big whoop) about his gambling habits on multiple occasions, and was even hit with a breach of a rule on insider information when he told a friend he would be starting the next match, info which Toney argued was widely known.

By having pleaded guilty to these charges and showing “genuine remorse” in the eyes of the FA, Toney’s sentence was reduced from a proposed length of 15 months to eight. The striker was also clinically diagnosed with a gambling addiction, which factored into the reduced punishment.

At the risk of coming across like a rapper clamoring for the release of an “affiliate” who received seven years for a string of armed robberies at various Toys “R” Us locations, Toney’s punishment is still too severe.

Again, this is not a case of match-fixing. Toney did not influence his team to lose after having placed bets against them winning, meaning he could not have thrown a match. In matches when Toney was playing, the only bets he placed were on his team to win.

His gambling is not changing the outcome of these matches whatsoever; it’s laughable to suggest that the journeyman who wavered in the lower leagues for most of his career suddenly turned into prime Cristiano Ronaldo when his money was on the line. 

The Premier League didn’t play their cards right

Toney did not undermine his teammates’ effort, cause anyone undue physical or financial harm, or commit any moral wrongdoing. The FA’s punishment is merely upholding the widely antiquated belief that players should not gamble whatsoever, despite evolving regulations and public sentiment around it. 

Notice anything about these shirts that might not sit right with Toney?

European soccer  especially the Premier League is rife with gambling advertisements, and to punish a player for doing something that is both innocuous and widely promoted by the league is more hypocritical than your ex. 

Eight clubs including Brentford prominently feature gambling sponsors on the front of their kits, and the same Sky Sports broadcasts that have already lamented Toney's actions have shown gambling advertisements seconds later.