1964 British betting scandal

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The British betting scandal of 1964 was a scandal in English association football in which ten professional players were jailed for offences arising from match fixing.

History[edit]

Former Swindon Town, Plymouth Argyle, St Johnstone and Mansfield Town player Jimmy Gauld over several years systematically interfered with matches in the Football League, enticing players into betting on the outcome of fixed matches.

In late 1962, Gauld approached Sheffield Wednesday player David Layne, a former team-mate at Swindon Town, to identify a target game.[citation needed] Layne suggested that Wednesday were likely to lose their match on 1 December 1962 against Ipswich Town and proposed to his fellow players Peter Swan and Tony Kay that they ensure the outcome.[citation needed] The three all bet against their own side in the match.

The following year, Gauld's betting syndicate tried to fix the result of a match between Bradford Park Avenue and Bristol Rovers (played on 20 April 1963); consequently, two Bristol Rovers players - goalkeeper Esmond Million and inside-forward Keith Williams - were named in the Sunday People as having taken bribes to 'throw' the match. Million and Williams were fined and banned from football for life, as was Mansfield Town player Brian Phillips, who had made the initial approach to Million.

On 4 August 1963, Ken Thomson of Hartlepools United confessed in the Sunday People that he had bet with Gauld's syndicate on Hartlepools United losing a game at Exeter City earlier that year (he would subsequently be banned for life by the Football Association). A week later, Jimmy Gauld was named by the Sunday People as the 'mastermind' behind the bribes ring.

In 1964, Gauld, in search of a final "payday" after having been discovered by the Sunday People, sold his story to the same newspaper for £7,000, incriminating the three Sheffield Wednesday players who had 'thrown' the game against Ipswich Town in December 1962. The paper broke the story on 12 April. The following Sunday, a number of other players were also named as having taken part in attempts to fix matches. Ten former or current players were finally sent for trial at Nottingham Assizes in early 1965.

Jimmy Gauld's taped conversations were ultimately used to convict himself and the other players, the judge making it clear that he held Gauld responsible for ruining them. At the end of the trial on 26 January 1965, Gauld - described by the judge as the "central figure" of the case - received the heaviest sentence of four years in prison. Brian Phillips and York City player Jack Fountain were each sentenced to fifteen months' imprisonment, Dick Beattie of Saint Mirren received nine months', Sammy Chapman of Mansfield Town, Ron Howells of Walsall and Ken Thomson each received six-month sentences while David Layne, Tony Kay and Peter Swan each received four-month sentences.

On release, Layne, Swan, Kay, Beattie, Fountain, Chapman and Howells were banned for life from any further participation in football (Gauld, Thomson and Phillips had already been banned). Thirty-three players were prosecuted, in total.[1]

Aftermath[edit]

In 1971, the Football Association amended its rules to allow banned players the right of appeal after seven years. Brian Phillips successfully appealed his ban and would lead Notts Alliance amateur side Rainworth Miners Welfare F. C. to the final of the FA Vase in 1982 as their manager. He died in 2012.

Peter Swan and David Layne also successfully appealed their bans and returned to Sheffield Wednesday in 1972. Swan later transferred to Bury and then to Matlock Town whom he led (as player-manager) to victory in the FA Trophy final of 1975. Layne did not play for Sheffield Wednesday’s first team again and ended his playing career at Hereford United

Sammy Chapman also returned to football, first with Portsmouth and Crewe Alexandra as a coach and then with Wolverhampton Wanderers as chief scout and then manager.

Dick Beattie worked in the shipyards following his release from prison. He died in 1990.

Esmond Million emigrated to Canada where he became active in professional ice hockey.

Ken Thomson died prematurely of a heart attack on a golf course in 1969.

Tony Kay was the highest profile of those implicated. Kay was transferred to Everton in December 1962 a few weeks after the Ipswich Town v Sheffield Wednesday match mid way through the 1962/63 season helping Everton win the Football league title that season.[2] He was also an England International and expected to be in Alf Ramsey's 1966 World Cup squad.[3] He never returned to professional football. He later spent twelve years in Spain, avoiding arrest for selling a counterfeit diamond. On his return to the UK Kay was fined £400 and in later years he worked as a groundsman in south east London. The greatest irony of his implication was him being named man of the match in the Ipswich Town vs Sheffield Wednesday match - the match by the People newspaper accused him of betting to lose, which he was found guilty of betting in.[4]

The scandal was dramatised in 1997 in a BBC film The Fix, directed by Paul Greengrass and starring Jason Isaacs as Tony Kay and Steve Coogan as Sunday People journalist Michael Gabbert, whose investigative work led to the uncovering of the scandal.

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