FAI declares Longford match-fixing probe ‘absolute priority’

The FAI are treating the allegations of match-fixing which have seen a player suspended by Longford Town as a “very serious issue” pending the outcome of investigations by both the club and the association.

FAI declares Longford match-fixing probe ‘absolute priority’

Airtricity League Director Fran Gavin, who is also the FAI’s Integrity Officer, said: “The integrity of competition is an absolute priority for us. We have seen how leagues in other countries have been badly affected and we need to be sure we nip it in the bud. It’s important we’re on top of it and that we leave no stone unturned in our investigations.”

Gavin added that while the FAI would like to complete their investigation into the Longford allegations “as quickly as we can”, the complexity of the case means it could be a matter of weeks before it reaches a conclusion.

On Tuesday night, Longford confirmed they had suspended one of their players after launching an internal investigation into possible match-fixing, although it was stressed the player’s suspension should not be taken to imply he was guilty of the allegation.

In a statement the club said: “Longford Town FC wish to inform their supporters that the club is in receipt of information with regard to a Longford Town player’s possible involvement in activities which could be construed as conspiring to influence the results of matches.

“As a result of this information received, Longford Town FC is obliged to notify the relevant authorities and conduct an internal investigation into the matter. The internal investigation has commenced. Subsequently one player has been suspended by the club while the investigation takes place.”

After being notified of the allegations by Longford, the FAI’s Disciplinary Control Unit also opened an investigation, with the association saying it has already begun sharing information with relevant parties, including Uefa, Fifa and an Garda Síochána.

Yesterday, Fran Gavin said it was a positive that the club had acted swiftly in both taking their own action and notifying the FAI. “It shows there’s an awareness out there, from both clubs and players, about the seriousness of any match-fixing allegation,” he said

Meanwhile Ireland U21 boss Noel King would welcome Robbie Keane moving into a coaching role with the country’s top young talent.

The Irish captain last week insisted the FAI isn’t doing enough to facilitate a pathway for senior players to step onto the coaching ladder with international squads. In an unprecedented outburst, Keane pinpointed the England’s FA’s decision to deploy the Neville brothers, Gary and Phil, to work with the senior and U21 national players respectively, as a comparison.

“The FAI will have to look at that and bring in new coaches and managers,” said Keane.

“Look around the Premier League and the Championship, the only two I can think of off the top of my head are Mick McCarthy and Chris Hughton,” claimed the LA Galaxy striker.

King, in charge of the U21s for almost three years now, said while he’s satisfied with his current backroom staff, Keane ought to be encouraged to undertake their coaching badges.

“I would love to see Robbie Keane on the FAI’s coaching courses and eventually get involved with the teams,” said King. “It takes times for that transition though. I’ve found players coming onto these courses for the first time are amazed at the amount of work involved. There is a huge difference between playing and coaching.”

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