The board of Athlone Town AFC has welcomed the recent judgement handed down by the Court of Arbitration of Sport quashing the 12 month suspension handed down to former goalkeeper, Igors Labuts, dismissing charges of match fixing imposed by the FAI.
In a statement released to the media this week, Athlone Town congratulated Igor and his legal team on their success noting that justice had been served on this occasion.
First of all we would like to congratulate Igors, the PFAI and its legal team lead by esteemed lawyers Stuart Gilhooly and Paul McGarry SC on their superb success.
From the get-go, Igors and the PFAI fought to clear his name regarding findings he has always denied. His and the PFAI’s stance regarding his innocence, which the club has always supported, has been fully vindicated and exonerated by the Swiss-based court.
In the club’s opinion, justice has been done for Igors, but questions remain to be answered regarding how the FAI investigated the matter. The court’s reasons for quashing the FAI’s findings against Igors were concise, clear and raise serious issues for the Football Association and its disciplinary procedures.
From the club’s prospective, the CAS ruling does not bring closure to the storm of allegations levelled at it over the last three years. The club believes that An Garda Siochana should be once again asked to properly investigate the matter.
Alternatively, the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement, which is currently conducting an investigation into certain matters at the FAI could consider widening its existing probe into the association to include this affair. Athlone Town AFC very much wants the full truth regarding the events that lead to the FAI investigation properly established once and for all.
The club is fully prepared to co-operate with any independent probe into the match fixing inquiry as it has absolutely nothing to hide. Athlone Town AFC would like to repeat its total opposition to and condemnation of all forms of match manipulation/match fixing. The club accepts that suspicious betting patterns were detected by UEFA’s Betting Fraud Detection System in our game against Longford Town on April 29, 2017.
In its ruling CAS has made certain findings on this report. Although it must be stressed that the contents of UEFA’s BFDS report were not challenged during the appeal before CAS. Given CAS’s finding that match manipulation occurred, nobody more than Athlone Town AFC would like to know who in fact was responsible, and why was an innocent man charged and convicted by the FAI over something he did not commit?
CAS held that there was no evidence to find Igors guilty of any wrong doing. Indeed that court’s findings regarding the flawed case made against him by the FAI are telling.
The words of the American civil activist, statesman and inventor Benjamin Franklin that “it is better 100 guilty persons should escape than that one innocent person should suffer” are most apt given the vile abuse Igors, and others associated with our club, have suffered from an army of on-line trolls.
The club believes both it and Igors were badly treated by elements within FAI and certain sections of the media, who seemed more interested in blackening good names, especially Igors’, rather than establishing the truth.
The club must once again publicly state that it was never charged with any wrongdoing following the FAI’s probe. The club believes that the FAI’s investigation was handled in a manner that was in stark contrast to other inquiries conducted by the association into alleged match fixing.
Despite the fact the club was never charged it believes that many innocent persons involved with Athlone Town AFC were unfairly targeted in a very personalised and vindictive manner especially on social media. The club would also like to once again clarify that the investigation occurred after the club had entered into an arrangement, that had been pre-approved by the then FAI hierarchy, with an overseas-based partner regarding our senior men’s first team.
It was never the case that said partner, commonly referred to as Pre Season, owned or held shares in the club, something that is unfortunately regularly incorrectly reported by many media outlets. That relationship was formally ended by the club following the conclusion of the 2017 League of Ireland season and the Portuguese-based Pre Season have had no contact well before that season had concluded.
The aim of that partnership, which it is accepted was in trouble well before the match fixing allegations surfaced, was to give players who had been released by big European clubs a chance to prove themselves in the League of Ireland.