Match-fixers should be banned for life from football, urges Owls manager Jones

Dave Jones
Dave Jones
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Sheffield Wednesday manager Dave Jones has called for anyone found guilty of match-fixing to be banned from football for life.

His call comes after several people were arrested this week in England as part of an investigation into alleged match-fixing.

As part of a National Crime Agency (NCA) crackdown on a suspected international betting syndicate, those arrested are reported to include three current footballers.

Jones – who has been involved in football for 40 years as a player and manager – said there must be zero tolerance to any form of match-fixing.

The Owls chief said: “If players, people, have done it they should be banned for life.

“You are cheating people who have paid good money to watch it. You are cheating people who are working hard to try and get a result.

“In any sport, if you are taking away what people expect to happen – for the gain of money – then I think they should be banned, and banned for life.

“As long as it’s proven, and it’s right, they should be kicked out of the game.”

Jones, a former player with Everton and Preston North End, has been a manager for 18 years and said he was unaware of any problem with match-fixing in English football.

But the 57-year-old said he would have no hesitation in reporting one of his own players if he had his suspicions.

He said: “I feel like I am an honest person. If I found out a person had fixed a game, or tried to fix a game, and I am trying to win that football match – my livelihood is at stake and they are more worried about picking up a few bob – I would tell the authorities.

“I would not hesitate. I would not care who it was, I just wouldn’t accept it. I would be absolutely devastated if one manager didn’t have the same response – kick it out.

“We want to make it as clean as possible. That’s why we have drug testing, have the PFA in talking about gambling. If someone on your pitch is cheating your team, because of that, then you don’t want them anywhere near the place.”

Sport has been plagued with betting scandals over the years, and Barnsley manager David Flitcroft was typically forthright in his views.

“If anyone would have asked me to fix a game or do anything, I’d have punched them,” he said. “It really does send me somewhere I really wouldn’t want to get to.

“Everything you get brought up on, certainly in English football, such as passion and determination to win football matches... to then go and try and throw a game and somehow be part of throwing a football match is against all your natural instincts.

“We have got to do everything we can as a deterrent to make sure it doesn’t happen on English soil. I think the world is a big place and if it happens on foreign soil, there’s not a lot we can do about it over here.

“But I did expect us to have more integrity than get involved in that. There must be desperate people trying to get money out of it.

“The Asian market is absolutely massive when it comes down to betting. The amount of people who do it and make money from it – are you going to be able to control it? Hopefully, they can get it into some sort of order.”

Bolton-born Flitcroft, 39, is a former player himself, chalking up several hundred appearances at clubs like Chester, Rochdale and Bury.

He added: “We had the Italian (match-fixing) scandal and anything to do with sport and fixing like there was in snooker and cricket, I find it repulsive.

“Sport is sport and what it transcends is equality and diversity, honesty and integrity. You can’t use all those words when there’s scandal. It sickens me to think ex-players who have taken money out of the game would try and take some more out of it, but in a disloyal way.”

Leeds United manager Brian McDermott added: “I’m shocked, quite shocked. You wouldn’t think that would happen in this country. If that is proved to be the truth, it’ll be a real shock.”

Two men have been charged with conspiracy to defraud. Chann Sankaran, a 33-year-old Singapore national, and Krishna Sanjey Ganeshan, a 43-year-old with dual UK and Singapore nationality, have been remanded in custody and will appear at Cannock Magistrates’ Court in Staffordshire today.