The FA and Gambling Commission have announced inquiries into ‘Piegate’ after Sutton United’s reserve goalkeeper ate a pie during the club’s FA Cup fifth round tie with Arsenal.
The magic of the FA Cup was diminished this week as Wayne Shaw resigned from his job as reserve goalkeepr at Sutton United after his part in Piegate.
Before the match, Sun Bets had offered odds of 8-1 on Shaw eating a pie ‘live on air’, a fact that the goalkeeper hadn’t missed as he admitted afterwards that “Sun Bets had us at 8-1 to eat a pie. I thought I would give them a bit of banter and let’s do it.”
The problem is, it wasn’t just banter. In a best case scenario, it was a poorly thought out publicity stunt, though it could be argued that it was much more serious than that and akin to spot-fixing in cricket.
The fact a bet of such nature was being offered in the first place was much worse than the actual incident and brings the game into disrepute.
One person was given the opportunity to manipulate the betting market on their own, and although said actions wouldn’t have influenced the outcome of the match, such a situation could lead to abuse. The authorities need to show there is no place in football for what happened. Shaw knew he wasn’t allowed to bet on the match and there is no suggestion he did.
He is a victim as much as he is the protagonist in the incident.
The moment the bet went onto the market, Shaw was at risk. The fact he ate the pie is irrelevant. Once he knew about the bet, he was implicated and such an opportunity should never have been allowed to exist to begin with.
A tweet from the bookmaker said they had paid out a five-figure sum as a result of Shaw’s actions. Had Shaw made the decision not to eat the pie then all the people who had taken up the bet would’ve lost money to Sun Bets. That the bookmaker lost money isn’t necessarily a good thing if the beneficiaries had known in advance that Shaw was going to eat the pie. The whole situation sets a dangerous precedent.
Shaw has lost his job and may suffer further consequences once the FA and Gambling Commission finish their inquiries, but Sun Bets need to be held accountable as well.
There can be no place for these type of bets to be available in football and the inquiries being conducted need to look into the influence of betting companies.
Bets that can be determined on the actions of one person threaten the integrity of the game. Action needs to be taken so no player is put in a similar position again.
Shaw made a mistake and will be punished, but the bigger issue is the influence of betting on sport. That’s what needs to be resolved.