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Football’s zero tolerance rule on betting bites once again - Wayne Shaw pie eating case

Football inside of a no sign
Friday, 10 March 2017 By Phil Bonner

As the fifth round FA Cup tie between Sutton United v Arsenal entered its 83rd minute, and with the non-league side trailing their Premier League opposition by two goals to nil following a spirited performance by the underdogs, a curious incident took place.

Much to the mirth and delight of TV commentators and social media users alike, Sutton’s substitute goalkeeper, Wayne Shaw (who also acted as the club’s goalkeeping coach and community liaison officer) arose from the home team’s bench and took a hefty bite from what appeared to be a pie.[1] Whilst pies are synonymous with football and enjoyed by many a spectator whilst attending matches throughout the UK, sports nutritionists are extremely unlikely to recommend pastry-based goods as a source of fuel for players, all the more so during an actual game.

However, in the immediate aftermath of Shaw’s mid-game indulgence, most saw it as a harmless and humorous act by an extrovert who revelled in his moniker of the “Roly Poly Goalie”.

Fast-forward just 24 hours, Shaw had resigned[2] from his position at the club, after The Football Association (“The FA”) and the Gambling Commission confirmed[3] that they were investigating the circumstances surrounding the incident. 

This announcement, and Shaw’s subsequent resignation, followed his admission that he was aware of a betting operator offering odds of 8-1 on him personally eating a pie on camera during the game. Shaw statedI thought I would give them a bit of banter and let’s do it. All the subs were on and we were 2-0 down…I went and got it at half time from the kitchen, I had it all prepared and ready to go”. When asked whether he was aware if anyone had placed a bet, Shaw went on to note “I think there were a few people. Obviously we are not allowed to bet. I think a few of the mates and a few of the fans. It was just a bit of banter for them”. [4]

The betting operator involved, Sun Bets, subsequently tweeted that it had indeed paid out a “five-figure sum” in relation to the incident.[5] 

Although Shaw did not personally place a bet – something he was keen to stress – an examination of the The FA’s rules will explain why they are investigating the incident.


The FA’s rules on betting

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Phil Bonner

Phil Bonner

Phil Bonner is an associate at Centrefield LLP, a sports and media law boutique based in Manchester, England.

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