herald

Thursday 23 November 2017

Gardai question Bray players as new match-fix probe hits game

Bray Wanderers’ Carlisle Grounds. Photo: SPORTSFILE
Bray Wanderers’ Carlisle Grounds. Photo: SPORTSFILE

Irish football has been rocked by another match-fixing allegation after a garda investigation was launched into a recent match involving Airtricity league team Bray Wanderers.

The Herald can reveal that detectives from the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau - formerly known as the Fraud Squad - questioned a number of players on Tuesday night as part of their probe.

The inquiry centres on a friendly game with Waterford FC, which took place last Friday.

Before kick-off, Waterford were 5/1 to win the game. They ended up beating Bray 5-0.

Training

The investigation comes only a week after two Athlone Town players were each handed year-long bans from competitive football after a lengthy match-fixing probe.

A number of detectives arrived at Bray's training ground shortly after 5pm on Tuesday, and several players were questioned. Officers also examined mobile phones belonging to the team members, but no arrests were made.

"A number of gardai came in and looked through the players' phones in detail. The club did not proceed with the training after their players were questioned," a source said.

Gardai will also examine any footage available of the game as part of their inquiries.

"The Garda National Economic Crime Bureau are investigating this matter," a garda spokesman said last night.

"As it is an ongoing investigation we will not be commenting further."

It is understood that as part of the probe, gardai will examine whether there were any unusual betting patterns around the match.

Bray Wanderers released a statement last night, saying: "Bray Wanderers FC wish to acknowledge that they are aware of an investigation by An Garda Siochana into a recent fixture involving the club. We are cooperating fully and will be making no further comment until the investigation is completed and we have been presented with the findings."

A spokesman for Waterford FC said they could not comment until more specific information is made available.

The FAI said in a statement: "The Football Association of Ireland has launched an investigation into alleged match-fixing surrounding the friendly match between Bray Wanderers FC and Waterford FC on Friday, September 8 at the Carlisle Grounds.

"Upon receipt of a complaint, the FAI notified An Garda Siochanna and the association has now launched an investigation into alleged breaches of FAI Rules. The FAI has a zero tolerance policy to match-fixing."

Bray are currently fifth in the FAI Airtricity League while Waterford FC are top of the First Division, having lost only two games all season. FAI Cup games were scheduled to take place at the weekend and, as the two teams have already been knocked out of the competition, a friendly game was organised in recent weeks.

Earlier this month, two Athlone Town FC players were handed year-long bans after being found to be in breach of FAI regulations, including game manipulation.

Latvian goalkeeper Igors Labuts and Romanian defender Dragos Sfrijan were banned from "all football activity" by the FAI for 12 months.

Defeat

A disciplinary committee found they had breached three of the association's rules, including those relating to "Manipulating Matches" and "Betting/Gambling".

The charges arose from a Division One game at Longford Town in April. It ended in a 3-1 defeat for Athlone, after which Uefa informed the FAI of suspicious betting patterns and also contacted gardai and Interpol.

The players have since lodged an appeal against their match-fixing bans. The Professional Footballers Association of Ireland (PFAI), which recently represented Labuts and Sfrijan, could not be reached for comment.

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