FA ponders probe over John Terry Chelsea substitution bets
Blues legend was substituted off after 26 minutes on Sunday, after a series of wagers were placed on the stunt
The Football Association is considering launching a formal investigation into John Terry's sentimental substitution during Sunday's Premier League fixture against Sunderland after details of bets placed on his exit emerged.
Although it was derided by many, the stunt, which involved Terry being withdrawn after 26 minutes, was initially passed off as nothing more than self-indulgent pap, but a more sinister element has subsequently emerged with The Sun reporting that three customers collected more than £3,500 as a result.
"We replied to a novelty request for odds on John Terry's substitution – one of hundreds on the Chelsea game – and fair play to the three punters who were on at odds of 100-1," said a spokesman for bookmakers Paddy Power.
According to The Times the FA are now "liaising with the Gambling Commission" over whether to launch a formal investigation into the bets. The paper said that about half an hour before Sunday's kick-off, a message was posted on the cfcuk fanzine Twitter account (which has more than 14,000 followers), to the effect that Terry was going to pull a substitution stunt.
The Times says that "the same fan also posted a video on the same account that was apparently filmed inside Terry's car as the Chelsea captain drove to Stamford Bridge earlier in the day".
The FA has contacted Paddy Power to ask for information on the bets and the bookmaker is reportedly co-operating with the investigation because it is a signatory to a memorandum of understanding with the sport's governing body. The FA's match-fixing policy states: "Fixing is arranging in advance the result or conduct of any match or competition, or any event within a match of competition."
The Gambling Commission told the Times that the FA would have to decide if "his pre-arranged departure from the match to receive a standing ovation and a guard of honour from his team-mates could constitute an inadvertent breach of its rules on match-fixing".
The fact that Sunderland manager David Moyes admitted he had been made aware of the stunt prior to kick-off made it more likely that the FA will launch a spot-fixing inquiry, but it's the timing of the bets that will most interest the Gambling Commission.
The Times says that three customers received payouts from Paddy Power, with the bookmakers publishing two online betting slips "showing returns of £2,525 and £1,010 from stakes of £25 and £10 on bets placed at 2.46pm and 3.02pm respectively".
Was John Terry's 'cringeworthy' Chelsea exit actually match-fixing?
John Terry made his final appearance for Chelsea on Sunday as the champions came from behind to beat Sunderland at Stamford Bridge. But like so many other incidents in the player's career, there was a whiff of controversy about his departure.
The Blues skipper started the match but was substituted after 26 minutes, the time corresponding to his shirt number.
He was given a guard of honour by his teammates and a standing ovation from the crowd, but the stunt has not gone down well in some quarters, particularly after Sunderland manager David Moyes admitted his side deliberately kicked the ball into touch so Terry could be substituted.
Give Me Sport says the gesture was "always going to be controversial, regardless of the circumstances", while Match of the Day pundit Alan Shearer said the arrangement "could undermine the integrity of the game".
Terry admitted afterwards that he had arranged the stunt and asked his manager if he could be taken off in the 26th minute.
However, the Premier League are said to be unconcerned about the incident as nothing was riding on the game, nor have the FA indicated they will investigate.
Not everyone was critical of Terry's departure. It was "slightly cringeworthy" says Luke Edwards of the Daily Telegraph, but it is understandable that "a man who has spent his entire playing career at a club he joined as a small boy, a club he has captained during the most successful period in their history, wanted to make sure he said goodbye in the most dramatic fashion possible".
He adds: "He wanted to milk it, to bask in the glory, to soak up the adulation, to allow the emotion of the occasion to be replaced by joy… Can we not allow someone to enjoy their moment in the way they see fit?"