Brentford's Frank opens up on Toney gambling charges

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작성자 Aiden
댓글 0건 조회 104회 작성일 23-03-26 06:34


, the manager, is sitting in a meeting room next to his office on the first floor of the club's training ground when a colleague walks in with some news.
A man called Antonio Neill, who had racially abused striker Ivan Toney via social media last year, and a three-year ban from every football ground in the UK.
Frank tells the media later that he thinks the punishment is not strong enough but that at least it is a start.

As he sits in this room, though, there is a wider issue playing on his mind: in recent months, Toney has been painted as an offender, not a victim. 

He has been portrayed as a perpetrator.
Leaks from within the FA's investigation into his gambling habits have had the effect of convicting him and damning him before he has been sentenced.
Toney is facing 262 charges — and the prospect of a six-month ban from all football — relating to alleged breaches of FA betting rules that occurred before he joined Brentford. 
Brentford manager Thomas Frank (pictured) has told Sportsmail in an exclusive interview that he feels it is not right his striker Ivan Toney has been painted as an offender and not a victim
Bees star Toney is facing 262 charges — and the prospect of a six-month ban from all football — relating to alleged breaches of FA betting rules that occurred before he joined Brentford
Despite the punishment given to Antonio Neill after he racially abused Toney, the player still suffers similar abuse regularly when he posts on social media
Some chose to interpret, for the approaching European Championship qualifiers against Italy and Ukraine,.
Yet there is also a feeling that football is risking making Toney a casualty of confused priorities.

Despite the punishment meted out to Neill, Toney still suffers regular racist abuse when he posts on social media. 
It is still the exception when his abusers face legal action of any kind. And yet there is speculation that even though there is no suggestion he conspired to fix games or bet against his own side, Toney will be banned for a series of relatively innocuous gambling offences.
Frank knows that Toney has to be punished if the gambling allegations against him are proven. He knows how critical it is to the health of football that the game should not be compromised by the suspicion that its integrity has been affected by players waging bets on it. 
But this is a nuanced case, as anyone who has cast even a cursory glance over football's relationship with betting knows.
In terms of performance, what is the difference between Toney betting on himself to score, for instance, and clubs offering players goal-related bonuses?

Not all offences are on the level of Shoeless Joe Jackson and some of his Chicago White Sox team-mates conspiring to throw the 1919 World Series. 
And young working-class players such as Toney often grow up on estates where the row of shops that serves a community often consists of a small supermarket, a fast-food joint, a newsagent and a bookmaker.

Who is really the victim here and who is the villain?
There is an elephant in this room, too, and Frank, widely admired for everything he has achieved at Brentford, turns to address it. Every time Toney runs out for the club, he runs out with the name of Brentford's shirt sponsors, Hollywood Bets, splashed across his chest. 
Toney has been named in England manager Gareth Southgate's Latest News international squad
Gareth Southgate (left) heaped praise on the resilience of Ivan Toney (right) amid an FA probe
Brentford are owned by Matthew Benham, the founder and owner of Smartodds, a statistical research company for professional gamblers.
Add to that the fact that when Toney is alleged to have committed his gambling offences, he was playing in a league that was known at the time — and is still known now — as the Sky Bet EFL and it becomes more and more obvious that the Brentford star's case is as much about football's problematic relationship with gambling as it is about the details of Toney's accumulators.
'Perhaps if I reflect on what would be a perfect world, would I rather have less money and not have betting on the front of our shirts even if it means we don't have as good players?

Maybe,' Frank says. 
'It is ultimately about results and money and you can never be perfect but you have to have the intention to have the right values and do the right thing.
'When Ivan runs out with the name of our sponsor on his shirt, it sends mixed signals to everyone that football allows betting companies.
There should be some rules from the Government to prevent that. There is better gambling awareness now and safe gambling but there is much to be done.
'Then look at the other side: Ivan scores and he goes on Instagram and the abuse he gets is utterly horrific.

He is on the receiving end of more malicious intent than he has given out and yet he will be the guy who takes the hit. That is unbelievably hard. 
'I would like to think this debate will save other players for the future.

The rules are right but have players got the right education? Are we all clear about what is permitted and what is not permitted?
'I thought about these rules and then I thought, 'I know that I can't bet but what about my son?' I wasn't sure.

Is he allowed to bet? I see myself as a fairly well-educated person and I didn't know so I made sure I got the information.
Frank says it is 'unbelievably hard' Toney is set to be punished for breaking betting rules but that he also has to put up with racist abuse every day
The Danish boss pointed out the irony of the club being sponsored by a gambling company
'I am not criticising the FA for this.

The FA came to the club before the start of the season and gave a talk about some of these issues. But the players need more education than that about the rules and as a club, we accept that we have a responsibility to provide that.
'It's unbelievably hard that it looks as if Ivan is going to get punished for this but that he has to put up with racist abuse every day.
'I understand that they are two separate things and that being racially abused is not mitigation for gambling but it still feels like a confused message.

It is hard when it feels as if Ivan is going to be punished more severely for what he is alleged to have done than people who are abusing him.
'I am not talking about serious crimes here, obviously, but what do you do when people step over the line in society for more minor misdemeanours?
You get them some education or you get a suspended sentence. 
'If you do it again, then boom, it should be punished. You should not put a player in football prison for what he has done. It is about educating people.
'If you ban Ivan from football for six months, that is the football equivalent of putting him in prison for six months.

This is what he is having to face. The level of education that we get — all of us — around the gambling rules is not the same as the education that is given about racial abuse.
'Ivan was in hotels, he was on loan, he had nine different clubs in eight years before arriving at Brentford, he is a young man and he has all this influence going on around him from gambling and yet we will not pay any attention to that, we will just look at the offence itself.
'It is hard for players when the advertising for betting companies is all around them at stadiums and on our shirts and the shirts of other clubs and we are saying 'ignore the advertising'.'
Toney is the third-top scorer in the Premier League this season, behind Erling Haaland and Harry Kane
The 27-year-old is in training and could play in England's Euro qualifier against Italy on Thursday
Phil Giles, Brentford's highly respected director of football, also points to the importance of education in tackling football's problems with gambling.

'We acknowledge we do have an association with betting, with current and past sponsorships,' he says.
'And maybe we have underestimated that there is an influence in the relationship that is contrary to what the players and staff are allowed to do. That doesn't change the fact it is hard for us and for Ivan when we hear talk of him getting a long ban. 
'There is no suggestion of match-fixing in the charges against him.

No malicious intent. He was not out to cheat in any way. Is he the sort of person who has malicious intent? No. Nobody in football should be allowed to bet on football but if you talk about the punishment, it should be in the framework of the intent.'
Toney, 27, will fly to Naples with the rest of the England squad this week ahead of the opening Euro 2024 qualifier on Thursday. 
The England boss knew he would attract some criticism for including him but Toney is still playing club football and his Premier League form has been key to propelling Brentford to eighth place in the table.
The news of the FA's investigation into his historic gambling offences broke just before Southgate named his World Cup squad last year. 
Southgate insisted there was no connection with that and the fact he was left out of the travelling party. 
Many expected the striker to be adversely affected by the scrutiny that followed but he has continued to excel.
'Since the news came out, his form has been remarkable,' Frank says.

'I have met very few players with such a strong mindset and that applies to the way he deals with the amount of racial abuse he suffers. 
'He takes a lot and he overcomes it and keeps going and gets even better and even stronger.
You see one guy with a big personality and a big presence but if you follow him around and see how loved he is by the staff members and his team-mates, it's remarkable.
'His emotional intelligence is one of the biggest I have ever seen. He is so good at reading people in the right way and that is everything from the youngest player in the squad to the most experienced player in the squad.

He is not too big to speak to anyone. It says a lot about him as a person.
'I am convinced he will come back stronger if he is banned but it will be painful. He is resilient and he has a good network of friends and family around him but it won't be easy for him. 
'You take away from him what he loves the most: to play football.
Sometimes, that is a fair thing to do. In this case, I think it's too high a price to pay.'


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