The board of troubled Athlone Town says the club will work to ensure the “full truth” comes out regarding damaging match-fixing allegations surrounding the club’s 3-1 defeat to Longford Town, and want gardaí to open a “parallel investigation” to the FAI’s probe.
The FAI will commence its investigation into the allegations today, meeting with players, staff and officials at the Midlands club. This follows a report from Uefa highlighting irregular betting patterns around their SSE Airtricity League First Division defeat to Longford on Saturday, April 29. The game attracted in the region of €400,000 in bets, mainly from betting markets in Asia.
The investigation has since been extended to two other games involving the club.
Last night, in an open letter, the board and management committee of Athlone said it would fully participate in the investigation, but said if the allegations are upheld “it is not just the club and its supporters, but also the FAI and football itself that will have been duped”.
“The board wishes to restate in the strongest possible terms we are disgusted and angry that games in which the club played might have been unduly influenced, or that match-fixing has occurred,” said the letter.
“Indeed given the extensive media coverage and potential ramifications for our club, the League and football’s governing bodies, Athlone Town AFC wants relevant police forces to investigate these serious allegations.
“We want An Garda Síochána, Europol, Interpol and Uefa itself to immediately open parallel investigations to the one being currently conducted by the Football Association of Ireland. It is our strong opinion no stone should be left unturned in relation to these very damaging claims. The club fully accepts and believes in the principle of ‘innocent until proven guilty’.
“However, Athlone Town AFC will not be found wanting in regards to the sanctions it will impose if anyone associated with the club is found to have engaged in match fixing. If any of the allegations are upheld it is not just the club and its supporters, but also the FAI and football itself that will have been duped.
“We have already stated publicly, and can only repeat, that everyone involved in the club who has been asked to participate will cooperate with the FAI during the course of its investigation. The club will work side by side with the FAI to ensure that the full truth and all the surrounding facts concerning these allegations of match fixing, which is a blight on the game, emerge. It has always been our intention to work with the FAI in relation to our affairs. Indeed the FAI has received all documents pertaining to the investor agreement. That arrangement was discussed at a number of meetings with, and ratified by, the FAI.
“Finally, it has been a difficult week for everyone at the club. The many decent and hard working individuals involved at various levels with the club have been left in a state of shock and are appalled something like this may have happened to a proud club like Athlone Town AFC.
“In particular it has been hard for those from the locality who have given their time and services to Athlone Town AFC for nothing other than a love of the game. The board will continue to work on behalf of the club and do its utmost to ensure that the club gets through this dark chapter in our history.”
Athlone beat Cobh Ramblers 2-1 in the First Division last Friday to knock the Cork side off the top.
Meanwhile, bottom side Galway United host Derry City tonight in a rescheduled SSE Airtricity Premier Division match at Eamonn Deacy Park (kick-off 7.45pm).
United subs Padraic Cunningham and Jesse Devers bagged their first league goals of the season in the Tribesmen’s 2-2 draw at Drogheda United on Friday night while Derry got back to winning ways, overcoming Bohs 2-0 at Maginn Park.
“It was a valuable point against Drogheda,” Cunningham said. “It shows the fight in us, hopefully we can pick up the three points against Derry. It’s a massive game on Monday, three points brings us to within touching distance of getting out of the relegation zone. We don’t want to be there come the end of the season, we want to push on.”
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