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'Manipulating matches' among 3 charges brought against Athlone Town members

A statement added that a hearing with the Independent Disciplinary Committee will take place on 3 August.

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

Updated: 21.40

THE FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION of Ireland has confirmed that charges have been brought against “members of Athlone Town AFC” as part of a Uefa investigation into match-fixing allegations.

A statement from the association confirmed today that the following charges have been brought:

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

The statement added that a hearing with the Independent Disciplinary Committee will take place on 3 August, but refrained from naming the specific individuals under investigation.

It is the latest development after the FAI announced back in May that it was launching an investigation into the conduct of Athlone Town AFC, as irregular betting patterns were highlighted during league matches earlier this season involving the club.

Athlone players, coaches and officials have all been interviewed, while An Garda Siochana and Interpol have also been called in as part of the investigation.

The PFAI have tonight said they’ve been asked to represent two players from the midlands club.

“At the outset, it’s important to note that both this association and the players we represent abhor concept of match manipulation and all were anxious to cooperate fully in the investigation which we accept had to take place,” a statement reads. “The players in this instance were interviewed at length by the FAI and provided full details of phone records and bank accounts.

“The players have denied all wrongdoing from the moment they were made aware of this investigation and this remains the case. They have done all that was asked of them to assist in the investigation which they believed would be carried out in a fair and objective manner.

“It is therefore with huge disappointment that they have been charged without it appears any evidence. The sole basis for the charges are that there were suspicious betting patterns and a panel of three experts were of the opinion that some of players actions were suspicious. No other ‘evidence’ whatsoever has been proffered. Indeed one of three experts states ‘there is not enough conclusive evidence to prove in a court of law that players conspired to affect the outcome of the game and therefore breach Rule 105′.

“The allegations that have been made against these players are of the most serious nature. There is nothing more damaging to a player’s integrity. For such charges to be levelled, the evidence against them should be overwhelming. Unless there is further evidence which the FAI is withholding, basing charges of this nature on these two players on the subjective opinion of two out of three people, watching TV footage and hand picked by the prosecutor, the FAI, is astonishing.

The players will defend these allegations vigorously and will do so as far as the Court of Arbitration for Sport if necessary. The integrity of our sport must be protected but not at the cost of the basic legal concepts of fairness, natural justice and civil liberties.”

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Paul Fennessy

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