INSIDE MATCH-FIXING PROBE ‘RELIEF’
A SWANSEA woman has spoken of her two-year ordeal after being arrested as part of a match-fixing probe relating to a Welsh Premier League football match.
Hayley Hartson was interviewed by police in 2016 in connection with an alleged gambling racket in the Welsh league when huge underdogs won a game 5-0, but has since been told she faces no further action.
With a flurry of bets on the match, a police investigation was launched after Port Talbot Town FC lost 5-0 to already-relegated Rhyl, who had not won in 17 matches.
Hayley, 45, was arrested along with 10 others in August 2016 after winning £400 on the result. She had bet £50 at 8/1 that Rhyl would be winning at halftime and full-time.
A total of eight men and three women were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud as part of an ongoing investigation by South Wales Police’s Economic Crime Unit. All 11 were later released on police bail pending further inquiries.
Police began an investigation after receiving information from the Football Association of Wales and the Gambling Commission’s Sports Betting Intelligence Unit about betting patterns on the match between Port Talbot Town and Rhyl, played on April 9, 2016.
The matter had initially been referred to the Gambling Commission by the Football Association of Wales. Now, nearly two and a half years after her arrest, Hayley has been told by police she will face no further action, Mirroronline reports.
Hayley told the Mirror: “It was the last game of the season. I thought the odds were good as I knew both teams were s***. I was delighted when I won.
“I went to B&Q and bought some new tiles for my bathroom. Not really a champagne lifestyle is it?”
Four months after the win, detectives were knocking on her door.
Hayley says: “I hadn’t a clue what they were on about. They took my phones, ipad and laptop. It’s been two-and-a-half years of hell. I’ve not been able to get a job, I’ve put up with sly comments, assuming guilt. Now I want people to know I did nothing wrong.”
Underdogs Rhyl stunned fans when they romped to victory by five goals in their home game – and it was even more of a shock because Port Talbot had beaten Rhyl 4-0 just two weeks earlier before the return match at Belle Vue, Rhyl. Football chiefs called in gambling experts and police to investigate the game after the shock score in April 2016.
On Friday, a police spokeswoman said: “South Wales Police is continuing to investigate allegations of match fixing of a Welsh Premier League fixture involving Port Talbot Town Football Club.
“During the course of the investigation a total of 34 individuals have been interviewed in relation to conspiracy to defraud.
“A total of 24 have now been released without charge. South Wales Police is continuing to liaise with the Crown Prosecution Service with regard to the remaining 10 who remain under investigation.”
Speaking at the time of the arrests, Football Association of Wales chief executive Jonathan Ford said: “These arrests are as result of a thorough process of evidence gathering and close co-operation between the FAW, South Wales Police and the Gambling Commission.
“The FAW remains committed to our Integrity Education Programme which began in 2014, as well as the monitoring and reporting systems we have in place which have contributed to these arrests.
“The FAW will not bring any sporting sanctions against any individuals while the police investigation is ongoing.”