English Soccer Club AFC Wimbledon Terminates Manager for Betting on Matches

Oct 25

AFC Wimbledon has announced that it has let go of manager Wally Downes after the latter was embroiled in a controversy that alleged he bet on matches.

After initially suspending Downes indefinitely in September, AFC Wimbledown — a third-tier English soccer team — put its foot down and decided to terminate their manager’s services.

In a statement, AFC Wimbledon said: “The boards believe that a change of first-team manager is the best option to help the club maintain its recent upturn in performances.”

An investigation discovered that Downes bet on eight different soccer matches starting in 2013. He placed five bets on matches between November 30, 2013 and January 30, 2014. Fast forward to this year, when he made three more bets between March 16, 2019 and July 12, 2019.

The Football Association has remained vague with the details pertaining to the bets. It is also unclear if Downes bet on matches in which his own team played.

During the earlier time period, Downes had a brief stint as a coach with Queens Park Rangers. He placed the latest bets while manager of AFC Wimbledon, a position he had held since December 2018.

Football Association rules explicitly indicate that anyone involved in any of the leagues it oversees is “prohibited from betting, either directly or indirectly, on any football match or competition that takes place anywhere in the world.”

As previously mentioned above, AFC Wimbledon initially suspended Downes on September 25. The suspension was open-ended, “giving time for the club and Dons Trust boards to look at the allegations more closely and make a further announcement in due course.”

Then, on October 18, the FA gave Downes a hefty fine of £3,000 (or $3,898) and suspended him for 28 days after he admitted that he breached FA betting rules. His suspension was to end on November 14.

In the latest announcement, the club credited Downes for his work with a young group of players and wished him well. It added, though, that it would not make any more statements about his firing or the betting charges.

Assistant manager Glyn Hodges is set to take over the managerial reins of the club.

This incident comes after a pair of betting-related sanctions that were handed down by the Football Association earlier this year.

Former Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge was charged with eleven counts of providing insider information to people for the purposes of betting, going back to November 2018. An independent commission found him guilty of two of the charges in which he told his brother, Leon, to bet on him signing with Sevilla FC. He never did end up moving to that team.

In June, former Salford City director Paul Scholes was also fined £8,000 ($10,394) by the FA for placing 140 bets on soccer matches from August 17, 2015 to January 12, 2019. Some of the games involved friends, former teammates, and business partners of Scholes.