A spokesperson for Gambling with Lives believes Brentford striker Ivan Toney’s eight month suspension is “indicative of football’s relationship with gambling.”
Speaking on TalkSport radio to former Scottish footballers Alan Brazil and Ally McCoist, Will Prochaska, Strategy Director at Gambling with Lives, stressed that the FA is “protecting the interests” of gambling companies over mental health.
He stated: “Really it’s kind of hypocritical because football has got him to advertise the products which he’s not allowed to use. Yet, every football game you see something like 500 adverts for gambling products and then you go round and tell the people who you are making advertise that they’re not allowed to use them.
“I just find that incredibly hypocritical and it’s indicative of football’s relationship with gambling in that the FA is now protecting the interests of gambling companies over the mental health of one of its young stars. I find that really difficult to accept.”
Toney has been suspended from football for eight months after admitting 232 breaches of the Football Association’s (FA) betting rules. He was found to have placed various bets on football matches whilst an active professional player.
Professional footballers throughout the English pyramid are not permitted to bet on football. However, they are allowed to bet on all other sports, such as horse and greyhound racing, and play casino games.
The ban means that the centre forward, who has been a key player for the Bees this season and only narrowly missed out on being part of England’s World Cup squad, will next be available for selection on 26 January 2024.
The final four months of the suspension will see Toney available to train with the club again. However prior to this he will be banned from all football activity.
Toney, although admitting guilt to the breaches, has previously voiced his disappointment with the process leading to the ban – specifically when it comes to alleged leaks by the FA.
Brentford also revealed that the club is awaiting the written reasons of the independent Regulatory Commission and will then review them before considering next steps.
Toney followed up by tweeting that he is ‘naturally disappointed’, describing the recent period as being very difficult before adding that he is awaiting the written reasons for the decision before making a full response on the decision.
On the length of the ban, Prochaska stated it was “severe” with a lack of sympathy towards the Premier League striker.
He added: “I think eight months is really severe. There’s not enough sympathy being shown really for this young man. He’s put on 232 bets. We don’t know the details, we don’t know the details so we have to be careful before we draw a final judgement but 232 bets is not a small amount of bets.
“There’s a reasonable chance that this young man was really suffering a pretty serious mental health disorder at the time. I’d like to know what the FA are doing in terms of supporting him and not just punishing him.”