Stan­ley man in fine mess over his bets

HEYS IS STUPID AL­RIGHT BUT HE’S NOT IM­MORAL

The Football League Paper - - INSIDE -

ONE bet you could for­give. But 735? And 37 on your own team… to lose! Not since OJ Simpson has a man been so patently bang to rights as Ac­cring­ton di­rec­tor Rob Heys.

The club stal­wart has been banned from all football for 21 months and handed a £1,000 fine af­ter ad­mit­ting to a slew of gam­bling of­fences.

Mind you, given that he has al­ready lost £2,300 to the book­ies, the fine is prob­a­bly the least of his worries.

Heys has been daft, that’s for sure.With such a lengthy rap sheet and his own team in­volved, he had to be pun­ished. He’s ap­peal­ing but will al­most cer­tainly lose.

Heys claims the FA rules on gam­bling have changed so of­ten that he has un­wit­tingly bro­ken them, but ig­no­rance is a poor de­fence. It is patently ob­vi­ous that you shouldn’t be bet­ting against your own club. Sim­pler still, don’t bet on football at all.

Of all peo­ple, Heys should know that. Five years ago, three Stan­ley play­ers – Jay Har­ris, Rob­bie Wil­liams and David Man­nix – were banned for bet­ting against them­selves in a game against Bury.

Tawdry

It was a tawdry in­ci­dent and po­ten­tially dev­as­tat­ing for a club like Accy, who rely on spon­sor­ship to sur­vive.

As Heys him­self said:“It’s dis­ap­point­ing be­cause it’s not good for the name of Ac­cring­ton Stan­ley.We pride our­selves on be­ing a fam­ily club, a very friendly club, very ap­proach­able, and things like this paint the club in a bad light.

“We would ap­plaud the fact that the FA have come down so heav­ily on the peo­ple that have been found guilty of the ac­tions and I think that can only be a good thing in terms of the fu­ture.”

How those words have come back to haunt him. But has Heys been more than sim­ply fool­ish? Are his ac­tions an af­front to the in­tegrity of the sport? I don’t think so.

Yes, he backed his own team to lose, the club he serves and who pay his wages. But any­one who has spo­ken to Heys – and I have sev­eral times – will know that he loves Stan­ley like a brother.

Clo­sure

While own­ers have come and gone, he has al­ways stuck around, rais­ing money, or­gan­is­ing col­lec­tions, drum­ming up spon­sor­ship.

With­out him, Accy may not have made it through the dark days of 2009, when a wind­ing-up or­der dragged them the brink of clo­sure. It is im­pos­si­ble to be­lieve that af­ter all those ef­forts he would de­lib­er­ately un­der­mine the club.

And ul­ti­mately, we have to ask a sim­ple ques­tion: what can a di­rec­tor do? When a player bets on his side to lose, it car­ries with it the im­plicit sus­pi­cion that he will throw the match.

Not only is that a crim­i­nal of­fence, it cheats the pay­ing pub­lic and strikes at the heart of all our sport­ing ideals. As Char­lie Sheen’s Top­per Har­ley said in Hot­shots, “Play­ing to lose is like sleep­ing with your sis­ter”. It’s ab­hor­rent, and il­le­gal.

Heys couldn’t af­fect any­thing, and his losses are tes­ta­ment to that. So while we can quite rightly con­demn his ac­tions and ap­plaud his pun­ish­ment, it is prob­a­bly un­fair to ques­tion his morals.

Chris Dunlavy

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