MANCHESTER, England (AP) — Ivan Toney was diagnosed with a gambling addiction after being charged with 232 counts of breaching English football’s betting rules, an independent regulatory commission said in a ruling published Friday.
The Brentford striker last week was suspended for eight months because of the breaches. The independent commission said in its report that the punishment could have been worse if not for the diagnosis of his condition.
Toney has been banned from all football and football-related activity with immediate effect until Jan. 16, 2024. He was also fined $62,000.
Among a “substantial number of breaches,” some of Toney’s bets could have resulted in the maximum punishment of a lifetime ban, the report said. They included 13 bets on his own team to lose.
The commission described Toney as a “prolific gambler” who the English Football Association contend was part of a “sophisticated system” to place bets over a long period of time.
However, testimony from Dr Philip Hopley, a consultant psychiatrist, played a significant part in the length of Toney’s ban. The commission said the player’s gambling addiction provided “significant mitigation.”
Toney already had a potential 15-month suspension reduced to 11 months because he pleaded guilty to the charges.
The commission said Hopley’s diagnosis was of “particular importance” and should result in a “significant reduction” of the ban.
“The lack of control the player has in respect of gambling is clearly a reflection of his diagnosed gambling addiction,” the ruling said. “The position appears to be that Mr. Toney has ceased gambling on football although he still gambles on other sports and casino games. He is determined to address his gambling problem with therapy at the conclusion of this season.
“Taking all of those matters into account the Commission reduces the sanction by 3 months to a suspension of 8 months.”
Toney has established himself as one of the Premier League’s most prolific strikers after playing the early part of his career in the lower divisions of English football. While at Newcastle, he had loans at Barnsley, Shrewsbury, Scunthorpe, Wigan and Peterborough before joining Brentford in 2020.
The charges relate to a period of five seasons from Feb. 25, 2017 to Jan. 23, 2021.
FA rules state players “shall not bet, either directly or indirectly, or instruct” people to bet on football in order to protect the integrity of the sport.
Among the charges, 29 bets or instructions to bet related to clubs Toney was registered with or on loan with at the time.
Toney did not play in any of the seven different games in which 13 bets were placed on his own team to lose. There were 15 bets on him to score in matches in which he did play.
According to the report, Toney accepted that he “repeatedly lied” when telling the FA during an interview that he did not bet on football.
The commission also found that Toney attempted to conceal the level of his gambling by using other people’s betting accounts.
The FA had suggested a minimum 12-month suspension, as well as delaying its start date until the beginning of next season because of the upcoming offseason break.
Toney will be allowed to return to training with Brentford for the final four months of his ban.
“I am naturally disappointed that I will be unable to play for the next eight months,” he wrote on Twitter when his ban was announced.
Toney’s suspension comes at a point when he is at the height of his career, having recently been called up for England’s national team. He has scored 20 goals in the league this season, with only Erling Haaland and Harry Kane above him.
Toney’s ban casts a light on football’s relationship with gambling. Brentford, for instance, have their shirt sponsored by a betting firm, like a number of other teams.
In April, Premier League clubs agreed to ban sponsorship from gambling companies on the front of their shirts, but that will not come into force until the end of the 2025-26 season.