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Accrington Stanley chief's representative hits out at FA
ROB Heys’ representative has blasted the FA after the Accrington Stanley chief was banned from football for 21 months for betting offences.
An appeal is expected to be heard in around four weeks after Heys was suspended from all football and football activity with immediate effect and fined £1,000, having admitted to a total of 735 breaches of FA betting regulations over the past decade.
That included 37 instances of betting on Stanley to lose, many as part of accumulators.
Heys has apologised for his actions in a statement but has stressed that he has never attempted to influence the outcome of any match or use inside information for financial gain.
Having held the title of managing director, he has resigned from the Stanley board ahead of disqualification as a director under separate rules set out by the Football League.
He remains employed by Stanley but has been suspended from club duties pending the result of the FA appeal.
Graham Bean, the former FA compliance officer who represented the Stanley chief at the hearing, labelled the punishment ‘extremely harsh’.
Bean said Heys had been left devastated by the outcome, believing an example has been made out of him – despite both the FA and the Football League having existing sponsorship deals with betting companies.
“I think the punishment is extremely harsh,” said Bean. “The FA has said it was about perception but no-one knew about this case before the FA made it known. They could have dealt with it privately.
“And how hypocritical is it for the FA and the Football League? The Football League is sponsored by Skybet and the FA is sponsored by William Hill. The governing bodies are not setting an example.”
Heys, who lost more than £2,000 as a result of the 735 bets, can retain his Stanley shareholding and is still likely to attend games as a supporter.
The independent appeal panel will have the power to increase or decrease Heys’ punishment.
Stanley will wait until the appeal before deciding whether to replace Heys. An interim team including Mark Turner, Vikki Gilmartin, Peter Shaw, Robert Houseman and Graham Mudie, the former Port Vale director, are currently looking after affairs.
Reds chairman Peter Marsden said: “Accrington Stanley recognise the important and valued work Rob Heys has carried out for us over many years, often in trying circumstances, but are also extremely mindful of how grave an offence breaches of the FA and Football League betting rules are.
“I have asked the FA for all the background papers and documents relating to the case so that they can be examined by the board of directors.
“In the meantime we have a football club to run and an interim steering team has already been in place for the last two weeks and this team will continue in place for the immediate future.”
The case came to light after Heys tweeted last September about a bet on a League Cup tie between Manchester City and Aston Villa, believing he was allowed to place money on the match.
But FA regulations stipulate that officials cannot bet on a match in any competition their club has been involved in – even though Stanley had been knocked out in the first round a month earlier.
Heys’ ban of 21 months is much longer than the unrelated suspensions handed out to five players who bet on Stanley’s 2-0 loss to Bury in May 2008.
Jay Harris was banned for a year with David Mannix suspended for 10 months, Robbie Williams and Peter Cavanagh eight months and Andrew Mangan five months.
The FA made no further comment owing to the pending appeal.
ROB HEYS: HIS STATEMENT IN FULL
"Last Thursday I attended a Regulatory Commission at the FA where I made a full and frank admission to 735 breaches of the FA betting rules , spanning a period of ten years. These bets were made via a number of online betting accounts which I had at that time – all of which are now closed. (See FA news story) "During the FA investigation I cooperated fully and provided them with all information they requested, including providing details of betting accounts that they had no prior knowledge of.
"In order to dispel any misleading information I consider it right and appropriate to detail exactly what the FA charged have me with, particularly in relation to Accrington Stanley Football Club. From the outset may I say that it has been accepted that my betting had no connection of any kind with the events which occurred several years ago involving a number of Accrington players. Furthermore at no time have I used inside information in respect of my betting and the FA have not alleged at any time that I have done so.
"The FA case was based on the perception that my betting would have on the integrity of the game – however the issues only became public knowledge once the FA made their announcement of the investigation and charges. Until then there was no perception to be considered because this was a private matter.
"The FA betting rules have changed several times over the years and as a result of some of those changes I have unwittingly broken the regulations.
"Of the 735 bets that brought the charges, 231 were on games involving Accrington Stanley. These were small stake bets and many were part of an accumulator bet where there was also a reliance on other clubs to win as well – clubs that had no connection to Accrington Stanley.
"Of those 231 bets, 137 were placed on Accrington Stanley to win, 37 to lose, and 57 other types of bet which were predominantly that there would be a total of more than two goals in a particular game, scored jointly by both teams. My judgment in respect of these bets was based on league placing, form and matters such as this that any punter with an interest in betting on football games would consider when placing a stake.
"Anyone who knows me personally will know that I only ever want a win for my team. This has always been the case and on occasions when I have very occasionally bet against my club over the last ten years I would always have been very happy to lose the stake and take the result.
"It is also important to note that I did not make any profit from the bets that have been involved in the FA charges. This was displayed in the schedule produced by the FA – In fact on Accrington bets the outcome was a loss of £421.00 and in respect of the total 735 bets it was an overall loss of £2,318.00 "Of the other 504 bets, these were on games from the cup competitions that Accrington Stanley had been involved in at some point, or from the league in which they were playing.
"There is a very relevant point to be made here to all who are involved in sport and do bet from time to time. If your club has been involved at any stage of a competition you cannot place a bet on any match at any stage of the competition.
"For example, players, officials and employees of clubs that have already been knocked out of the 2013/14 FA Cup in the Extra Preliminary Round this weekend are in breach of the betting regulations if they place a bet on the FA Cup Final in May next year. Many of the charges that made up the case against me were bets involving this type of rule breach.
"Finally with regards to the figures, to put these numbers into context, over the last ten years I have placed many bets, on all kinds of different sports, and the 735 rule breaches are only a small percentage of these. I have not staked any bet of any kind on Accrington Stanley for over 3 years. Furthermore I have not placed any bet which would contravene the betting regulations for over 10 months.
"I have rightly suffered because of my actions, and the lengthy suspension that has been imposed upon me should be viewed as a warning to those involved in football as to the consequences of such irresponsible actions.
"I would like to apologise to all who have been involved in this matter, and in particular the Football Association and the Football League for any embarrassment caused to the sport and the competitions in which my club have been involved. I also wish to apologise to all connected with Accrington Stanley, it has genuinely hurt that my actions might have had a negative impact on the great work that has gone into getting the club to where we are now. Last but not least I offer my sincere apologies to my family and friends.
"Moving forward I would like to thank all those who have been there for me over the last couple of weeks, again my family and friends, the supporters, staff and directors of Accrington Stanley who have backed me, and other members of the community who have sent letters and emails of support to the club.
"Over the years many people have made reference to the uniqueness of the Stanley family of which we are all part of. This is all well and good when times are good and we are winning championships and cups, however it is perhaps only when something comes along that rocks the boat that one can truly judge the strength of a family. To all those who have been in touch with me through the many messages, emails and phone calls I have had, I cannot put into words how much it has meant to me.
"It has been truly humbling that despite I have admitted wrongdoing so many people have been willing to offer their support.
"I accept that I broke the rules and that I must receive a punishment. However on consideration and following consultation with my representatives we do feel that a suspension period of 21 months is severe and inappropriately harsh. I fully intend to appeal against the excessiveness of the penalty in an effort to get it reduced so that I may work towards resuming my career within the football industry.
"It has always been a privilege and an honour to have been a part of the famous historic club that I have supported since being a young lad. I do hope that I can continue to be involved in the future, however whatever happens I will always remain a shareholder and, most importantly, a passionate and ardent supporter of Accrington Stanley Football Club.
"On Stanley On."
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