No charges in Bray betting case, say FAI
The FAI have confirmed that there will be no charges brought over claims of match fixing involving a Bray Wanderers game last season and that the case is now closed.
The Garda's fraud squad were called in to investigate claims of irregular betting patterns over a friendly game between Bray and Waterford last season, and players from the Co Wicklow club were interviewed by detectives.
The FAI also carried out their own investigation, with evidence given by 25 witnesses, but FAI official Fran Gavin, the Director of the SSE Airtricity League, says the matter has been dealt with. "We've done a thorough investigation into the game against Waterford and found that there's insufficient evidence to bring a charge. The case is now closed," Gavin said at a media briefing at FAI HQ yesterday.
"We've finished meetings, our final interviews were last week and that's where it is. We've always retained the right to reopen the investigation if new evidence comes in. The guards investigating have been very helpful on this one and worked with us very closely on it. They set up their own investigation, we had a meeting with them last year. I really want them to deal with that."
While defending the FAI's partnership with Trackchamp, a company which streams LOI games outside Ireland for betting purposes, Gavin says that Irish football has to remain vigilant on the betting issue and the danger of match manipulation.
"If everybody is responsible, I've no issue with people betting on matches when it's done responsibly when people know what they can and cannot do," said Gavin.
"It's a big issue for football worldwide, administrators around Europe, it's a big challenge for everybody. We have a zero tolerance policy here in the FAI. We'll continue to do that. Any information we get, we'll investigate. You can't investigate these things half heartedly,
"It's something we're working closely with the guards on to make sure that anybody coming into our league and thinks they can get away with fixing matches or betting on games illegally, they're in the wrong league because we'll go after them."
Gavin spoke to the media for almost an hour to deal with, or try to deal with, some of the issues facing the league for 2018, with the new season due to start next Friday.
He says he's confident that Bray and Athlone Town, who spent much of last season in crisis mode, will have "learned" from mistakes.
"I think it was quite a difficult year for them both on and off the pitch. The hope is that they learned a lot from it," he says. "We're satisfied that the club (Bray) is ready to go. They've signed some players, have a good strong squad, so they've gone through the licencing process and been awarded a licence.
"We'll monitor them through the year, keep in touch with them as we did last year. If they look back at the way it was handled, the club will probably have a different view on it this year. It's something we're watching very closely."
Gavin says that talks are ongoing about a new TV deal for the league, a thorny issue for clubs who are frustrated with the lack of a fee paid by broadcasters for live games.