1964 British betting scandal
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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. Layne suggested that Wednesday were likely to lose their match on 1 December 1962 against Ipswich Town and suggested to his fellow players Peter Swan and Tony Kay that they ensure the outcome. The three all bet against their own side in the match, which Ipswich Town won 2-0.
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 (which had ended in a 2-2 draw). 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 (equivalent to £127,000 in 2015), 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. It would be the first time that taped evidence was admitted in an English court.
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 wing-half 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.
It was established that Jimmy Gauld had earned £3275 from betting on football matches and £7420 from having sold his confessions to the Sunday People.
In 1971, the Football Association amended its rules to allow banned players the right of appeal after seven years. Brian Phillips successfully appealed against 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 against 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.
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 had the highest profile of those implicated. He had been transferred to Everton in December 1962, a few weeks after the Ipswich Town v Sheffield Wednesday match and midway through the 1962/63 season. He would help Everton win the Football league title that season. He was also an England international and expected to be in Alf Ramsey's 1966 World Cup squad.
Tony Kay never returned to professional football. He later spent twelve years in Spain, avoiding arrest for selling a counterfeit diamond. On his return to the United Kingdom, he was fined £400. In later years, he worked as a groundsman in south east London. The greatest irony of his implication was his being named man of the match in the Ipswich Town vs Sheffield Wednesday match - the match the Sunday People newspaper accused him of having conspired to lose and which he was found guilty of having 'thrown'.
The scandal was dramatised in 1997 in a BBC film The Fix, directed by Paul Greengrass and starring Jason Isaacs as Tony Kay, Christopher Fulford as Jimmy Gauld and Steve Coogan as Sunday People journalist Michael Gabbert, whose investigative work led to the uncovering of the scandal.
- Cox, Richard William; Russell, Dave; Vamplew, Wray (2002). Encyclopedia of British Football. Routledge. p. 72. ISBN 0-7146-5249-0.
- Ward, Andrew; Williams, John (2009). Football Nation: Sixty Years of the Beautiful Game. Bloomsbury. p. 101.
- "Swan still reduced to tears by the fix that came unstuck", The Times 22 July 2006, p. 102, Broadbent, R.
- Triumph and despair, Kay's own account, The Observer, 4 July 2004
- Johnson, N. (2006). Peter Swan: Setting the Record Straight. Tempus Publishing Ltd. ISBN 0-7524-4022-5.
- Simon Inglis, Soccer in the Dock (Collins, 1985) ISBN 0-00-218162-2 ISBN 978-0-00-218162-4
- Article from The Independent, 1995
- Article from The Daily Telegraph
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