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Two Athlone Town players handed 12-month bans for 'manipulating matches'

Igors Labuts and Dragos Sfrijan both face a year out of the game.

General view of Lissywollen, Athlone Town Stadium.
General view of Lissywollen, Athlone Town Stadium.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

Updated at 13.32

IT HAS BEEN confirmed that two Athlone Town players have been found guilty of breaching FAI rules.

An Independent Disciplinary Committee concluded Igors Labuts and Dragos Sfrijan were guilty of the following offences:

  • Rule 99: Bringing the Game into Disrepute
  • Rule 105: Manipulating Matches
  • Rule 106: Betting / Gambling

The pair have consequently been banned from all football-related activities for 12 months.

The news comes after an investigation was launched following irregular betting patterns into the conduct of Athlone Town AFC during their clash with Longford on 29 April, while it was later announced that the FAI were looking into two additional games featuring the embattled club.

A subsequent lengthy statement from Athlone criticised what they described as a “flawed and unfair” match-fixing probe.

Part of an FAI statement today read: “On May 3, an investigation was launched following a UEFA Betting Fraud Detection System report demonstrated ‘clear and overwhelming betting evidence that the course or result of’ Athlone Town’s game against Longford Town in the SSE Airtricity League First Division on April 29 ‘was unduly influenced with a view to gaining corrupt betting profits’.

The investigation was then widened on May 5 to take a closer look at two other games involving the club. However, the investigators found that there was insufficient evidence around those games to bring any charges, so the investigation focused solely on the game that took place on April 29.

“Upon receipt of the UEFA BFDS report, the FAI conducted a full investigation which included conducting interviews with relevant personnel, reviewing match footage and obtaining the opinions of football experts — a final report was prepared and charges were issued.”

The FAI’s statement added that the association has “a zero tolerance policy to match-fixing”.

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Paul Fennessy

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