Just a week after the UK Gambling Commission dropped statistics showing football was top of their list when it came to allegations of match-fixing, the Football Association has banned Premier League players from having a flutter on the footie – even on matches in which neither they nor their team is personally involved. The Mirror reported that the new prohibition extends to players, club staff (that means you too, tea-ladies) and part-timers. The ban doesn’t just affect those in the Premiership but those in the Championship, League 1 and League 2 as well. The ban even extends to football-related bets, such as who’ll be the next manager of a particular club, which squads will face the shame of relegation and, presumably, those ‘who’s got the dodgiest bog’ competitions.
The new FA guide states that players must have “a clear motivation to win the game, without any conflicting objectives … It is vital for football to protect, and be seen to protect, the integrity and reputation of the game.” Man United issued a memo to staff and players outlining the “strict prohibition on any match in any competition in which we will, are or have played in this season or future seasons.” Frankly, we think it’s a bit of an overreaction to prevent all footballers from enjoying a bet because of the actions of an unscrupulous few, but we get the FA’s desire to “be seen” to be doing something about the problem. Still, given the stories we’ve heard about footballers dropping serious stacks down at the bookies, the loudest protests are likely to come from those same bookies, who have just lost some very big customers. (Keep an eye on UK gaming company share prices this morning.)
Another of life’s little pleasures may be headed for extinction thanks to the actions of a reckless few. After a fist-fight broke out between Members of Parliament in the House of Commons Strangers’ bar last week – Labour MP Eric Joyce faces three counts of common assault for allegedly punching and head-butting three Tories and one member of his own party – some do-gooders are calling for the end of the cheap pints doled out to the UK’s elected officials within gobbing distance of their hallowed debating chamber. Good Lord… Just imagine the types of laws these previously pissed, now merely pissed off rapscallions will pass if they’re forced to sit in the Commons stone cold sober. ‘Hey, wanna give racing six billion pounds in this year’s Levy?’ ‘Whatever…’