RANGERS have launched an investigation into the conduct of Ian Black after he was charged by the Scottish Football Association of betting three times against a club that paid his wages.
The former Hearts and Inverness Caledonian Thistle midfielder has received a notice of complaint that alleged he bet against his “then-registered club” on three occasions between 4 March, 2006 and 28 July, 2013. Black was also charged with breaching the SFA’s disciplinary rule 22 by “betting on a further ten football matches that involved then-registered club” and “betting on a further 147 football matches”.
It is not known which club or clubs Black is accused of betting against. However, it is understood that the charges in general encompass his spells at all three of the clubs he has represented since 2006. He played for Inverness between July 2004 and July 2009, and Hearts between July 2009 and July 2012, whereupon he joined Rangers.
Last night it was reported that the most recent match Black bet upon was Rangers’ tie with Albion Rovers in the Ramsdens Cup on 28 July, 2013. Rangers won the game 4-0. It is also believed that the player’s actions came to light through his use of a Ladbrokes phone account.
The rule in question states that “no club, official, team official or other member of team staff, player, match official or other person under the jurisdiction of the Scottish FA shall bet in any way on a football match (except authorised and registered football pools)”.
The SFA confirmed that the ban applied to any football match anywhere in the world. The range of punishments includes a fine, suspension or expulsion from the game.
The governing body also stated that there was no evidence to suggest any breach of rule 23, which prohibits players and officials knowingly behaving in a “manner, during or in connection with a match in which the party has participated or has any influence, either direct or indirect, which could give rise to an event in which they or any third party benefits financially through betting”.
This gives rise to the possibility that Black did not participate in any of the matches in which he is alleged to have staked money on his team losing.
That was the situation that led to Gary Dempsey, formerly of Dunfermline Athletic and Aberdeen, being suspended by League of Ireland outfit St Patrick’s Athletic in 2009.
Dempsey pleaded his innocence by claiming that he had no knowledge of any rule that precluded him from betting on a game on whose outcome he could have had no direct influence. He was sitting in the stand during the match in question and did not profit, even though St Pat’s beat Galway United, because his bet was a double linked to Manchester City winning the same day – which they failed to do.
Black has been given seven days to respond to the complaint with a principal hearing date pencilled in for 12 September.
On the first date mentioned in the notice of complaint, Black played 90 minutes for Inverness in a 1-0 home defeat by Motherwell, which cut Caley Thistle’s lead over the Lanarkshire side to three points in the race for a top-six place in the Scottish Premier League.
On the final date in question, the 28-year-old scored in a 4-0 Ramsdens Cup victory for Rangers against Albion Rovers.
The former Blackburn trainee signed for Hearts in July 2009 and left for Rangers last summer after the Tynecastle club slashed their wage bill.
Black famously worked as a part-time painter and decorator in December 2011 to help pay bills when his Hearts wages were overdue.
A Rangers spokesperson said: “The club is aware of the SFA’s notice of complaint and [is] currently investigating the matter.”
Betting against one’s own team is not a practice common in football, but it has frequently reared its head in other sports. In cricket, Australian heroes Dennis Lillee and Rodney Marsh profited from England’s incredible Ian Botham-inspired comeback in the 1981 Ashes Test at Headingley.
When England were staring at a landslide defeat, wicketkeeper Marsh and fast bowler Lillee staked an unknown sum on England at 500-1. In that era, match-fixing was not considered to be a problem in cricket and the story was laughed off.