The Players Football Association of Ireland (PFAI ) and board of Athlone Town FC have questioned the decision of the Football Association of Ireland (FAI ) to charge four people associated with the club this week.
Athlone Town has been at the centre of an investigation since May after reports of irregular betting patterns during the club’s SSE Airtricity League First Division game versus Longford Town on Saturday, April 29.
The FAI is now bringing charges against members of the club for bringing the game into disrepute, manipulating matches, and betting and/or gambling on matches. A hearing with the Independent Disciplinary Committee will take place on August 3.
Three players are understood to have been among those charged by the FAI with offences. A fourth member on the non-playing side has also been charged. The club has not been sanctioned.
The board of Athlone Town said it is disappointed with the FAI’s decision, and that it is still waiting for all of the evidence related to the charges.
The PFAI revealed that it has been asked to represent two players implicated in these charges, both denying any wrongdoing.
“It is therefore with huge disappointment that they have been charged without it appears any evidence,” the statement read. “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’.”
“For such charges to be levelled, the evidence against them should be overwhelming,” it continued. “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 PFAI said the players are willing to go to the Court of Arbitration for Sport to clear their name.