Stanley man in fine mess over his bets
HEYS IS STUPID ALRIGHT BUT HE’S NOT IMMORAL
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.
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.
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.