Former Accrington Stanley chief's anger over Townsend betting ban
FORMER Accrington Stanley managing director Rob Heys has criticised the Football Association for rejecting his appeal against a 21-month suspension for betting offences – while handing out only a one-month ban to England star Andros Townsend.
Heys was banned from all football activity for 21 months in August, after admitting a total of 735 breaches of FA betting regulations over the past decade. That included 37 instances of betting on Stanley to lose, many as part of accumulators.
He has since left his long-serving role at Stanley, where he had been in charge of day to day affairs at the club, and has apologised for his actions.
But Heys stressed he was unaware at the time that he was breaching regulations, and he appealed against the length of the suspension.
He attended an appeal hearing at Wembley but, after the FA made no comment about the outcome, Heys has now released a statement confirming that the 21-month ban and £1,000 fine have been upheld.
Heys says he is ‘hugely disappointed’ with the decision, which he feels is inconsistent with the punishment handed out to Townsend and Stoke’s Cameron Jerome earlier this year.
Townsend was fined £18,000 and banned from football for one month from May 23, with a further three-month ban suspended for three years.
The Tottenham winger has since broken into the England squad, starring in their two World Cup qualifiers against Montenegro and Poland in the past few days.
Heys said: “Punishments handed out by the FA specifically for infringements of the betting regulations appear to be inconsistent.
“Andros Townsend was banned for one month with three suspended earlier this year for placing bets.
“However as the punishment was handed out in the summer his club did not suffer and he attended pre-season training as normal.
“Then immediately before my own hearing another Premier League player Cameron Jerome was handed a fine of £50,000 with no suspension.
“It is reasonable to state that neither of these players have suffered any hardship following their hearings.”
In contrast, Heys has been left unemployed as a result of his suspension.
“I still firmly believe that an overly harsh punishment has been handed out in order to send out a message,” he said.
“I have lost my position as managing director of Accrington Stanley – the club that I supported as a boy.
“This now leaves me without an income.
“I fully accept that I have broken the FA’s rules concerning betting.
“The very fact that I was caught breaking the rules due to a tweet highlights this.
“If I was knowingly breaking the rules then clearly I would not have announced it through social media.”
Heys added: “The matter was brought to my attention 12 months ago and not only did I admit the breach immediately, I then went over and above what was asked of me to provide the FA with details of every breach of this rule over a 10-year period.
“I believed this was the correct thing to do, however in hindsight maybe I was somewhat naïve.”
He has also stressed that, despite betting on Stanley to lose some matches, he never attempted to influence any match.
“I have only ever wanted Accrington Stanley to win,” he said.
“I would like to reiterate my genuine apologies to all involved with Accrington Stanley.
“I would however hope that I could ask people to balance this against the positives I believe I have brought to the club.
“I do hope I can continue to be involved in the future. Whatever happens I will always remain a shareholder and, most importantly, a passionate and ardent supporter of Accrington Stanley.”
The FA declined to comment when approached by the Telegraph.
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