Michael Moffat, top striker for Scottish League One football squad Ayr United, has been accused of betting on football, including six matches involving his own team. Scottish Football Association (SFA) compliance officer Vincent Lunny served Moffat with a notice of complaint this week over the player’s alleged breach of Disciplinary Rule 33, which bars players from gambling on football. Moffat is believed to have placed seven wagers on the six matches, in addition to wagering on over 150 matches involving other teams in the UK and abroad. Moffat has been given until Dec. 24 to respond to the allegations ahead of a date with the SFA’s Judicial Panel on Jan. 16.
But let’s be clear about something. Unlike the revelations that rocked English football earlier this month, the SFA has stated there’s no evidence that any of Moffat’s wagers had anything to do with match-fixing. Also, unlike the recent brouhaha involving Rangers player Ian Black, there’s no evidence that the Moff ever wagered on his team to lose or draw a match. As such, Ayr United chairman Lachlan Cameron has stated that the club has no plans to issue any penalty of its own against Moffat. Cameron noted that betting was “rampant” in Scottish footie, and “if you were to ban everyone for this then there would be no football played this weekend.”
Frankly, it seems somewhat counterintuitive to punish a player who has literally put his money where his mouth – or foot, in this case – is. Moffat isn’t pulling down multimillions for plying his trade, so it seems only natural that he would seek ways of boosting his income that in no way negatively affect the integrity of the game. Much like a sports fan puts down money on a game to up his or her engagement level, Moffat had provided extra financial incentive to do his utmost to achieve a victory. Frankly, this type of personal incentive might go a long way toward minimizing the likelihood of spoiled athletes phoning in an on-field performance because they knows their seven- or eight-figure salaries are guaranteed regardless of how they perform.
While we don’t expect the SFA to adopt the above viewpoint, there does appear to be sufficient wiggle room in this case to let Moffat off lightly. Whatever response Moffat provides on Christmas Eve, let’s hope the SFA compliance crew is also visited that night by three spirits, all of whom take the officials down to their local for a quiet word over a pint, after which they wake up the next morning full of the spirit of giving, as in giving Moffat a break.