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A Data Analysis Of Outcomes In FA Betting Cases

Mobile betting on football match
Tuesday, 24 August 2021 By Alastair Campbell

According to the latest data from the UK Gambling Commission, in the year to December 2020, 4.8% of the UK adult population had placed a bet on football during the past four weeks – over a million people.[1]  ‘Participants’ (as defined in The FA’s Rules) at Step 4 of the National League System and above are prohibited from betting, either directly or indirectly, on any football match or competition that takes place anywhere in the world.[2]  Yet in light of the number of people betting on football, the money involved, and with gambling companies and their adverts being so closely associated with professional football, it is no wonder that The FA continues to have to deal with significant numbers of betting offences.

However, despite increasing case numbers and a significant shift towards online and mobile betting in recent years, The FA’s guidance on how such offences should be sanctioned has not been updated since the 2014/15 season.  What is more, it is clear that, despite the guidance, the outcome in a betting case can vary significantly depending on the type of bets placed and the individual circumstances at play.  Even within one distinct category of bets, the recommended sanction can vary from a ban of six months to a full life ban – a range which is too broad to be of any real assistance to Participants (or even the Regulatory Commissions imposing the ban).

In order to address these uncertainties and provide a little more clarity for Participants and other stakeholders, we have conducted an empirical analysis of 101 betting cases which are publicly available on The FA’s website as of 19 March 2021.[3]  In order to be of most practical use to Participants and other stakeholders, this analysis focuses on outcomes, average sporting sanctions and the effect of some of the more common aggravating and mitigating factors. 

Although the circumstances surrounding all betting cases are different, like all good regulators The FA strives for consistency and transparency in its decision-making.  It is hoped that our analysis will help create a more detailed picture of potential outcomes in betting cases, and that this will provide useful information for Participants and their advisers, as well as The FA itself.

We have also recorded a podcast to help provide further background and analysis:



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Alastair Campbell

Alastair Campbell

Alastair is a sports lawyer and partner at Level.  He acts for clients in the sports sector across a broad range of issues, from contractual matters to questions of public law.  He also specialises in conduct, disciplinary and regulatory work, advising on non-contentious issues such as the drafting of regulations and procedures, as well as acting on contentious disciplinary matters (including cases related to betting and integrity).  He is experienced in advisory work and has extensive knowledge of regulatory structures in football. 

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