A former England international has caused controversy after suggesting that “half” of professional footballers break strict rules by placing bets on the outcome of matches.
Last year, Joey Barton was handed a ban by Football Association (FA) officials after it was revealed he had placed more than 1,000 bets on games over the course of a decade.
Now the former Manchester United and Rangers midfielder has suggested that gambling is “culturally ingrained” in the sport, alleging that 50 per cent of players were flouting the rules.
Speaking to Radio 4’s Today programme earlier in the week, Mr Barton said: “I think if they found out everyone who has been betting and cracked down on it, you’d have half the league out.”
After his own misdemeanours came to light, the footballer had initially been fined £30,000 and banned from playing for an 18 month period.
After fighting a lengthy appeal, the length of his suspension was cut by almost five months and he will be eligible to return to the game in June.
The governing body’s former chief executive, Adrian Bevington, told the station: “It [50 per cent] seems an anecdotally large number.
“It’s a very simple rule. It’s very clear – and something I support wholeheartedly – that anyone involved in the game should simply not be allowed to bet on football.
“It keeps it clean and everyone knows the rules that way.”
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