Neil Lennon has rejected the notion that footballers in Scotland don’t know the rules forbidding them from gambling on any matches anywhere in the world.
His comments come in the wake of Ally McCoist and PFA Scotland calling for a summit to educate players on what they can and cannot do. “I think they [players] know,” said the Celtic manager. “Ultimately, I think they know.”
Lennon added that betting on football is widespread in the game, but that the no-go area is betting on your own team and particularly betting on your own team not to win. Black faces three such charges in a list of 160 alleged breaches of SFA regulations. Lennon said if any of his players was found betting in matches involving Celtic they would be in “serious trouble”.
“Since I’ve been in the game, players have bet on football. The one thing you can’t do is bet on your own team. I think that’s the bottom line because it can open up a whole nest of wasps in terms of accusations that can be thrown at you. I’ve never known a player to bet on his own team. I’m not saying that to take the moral high ground, I just think it’s an unwritten rule [in fact, it is written, very clearly]. I would take a hugely dim view of it at our club. I really would. You would be open to all sorts of accusations after that. ‘What were you doing there?’ And ‘did you deliberately miss that?’
“I’ve played with some players in my time who were heavy gamblers, whether it be football, the gee-gees or in casinos. The PFA come into all the clubs and try to make the players aware of their responsibilities. It’s like alcohol; it can be intoxicating and ruin people’s lives. I know heavy, heavy gamblers from my time in England. I’ve seen a player come in with plastic bags full of cash after picking it up at the bookies. A week later he’d lost the lot again. I’m not going to name him, but I sat next to him and looked at the bag. I’ve never been a massive gambler. I enjoy a wee flutter. Everyone has a punt on the football. But once it becomes an irregular thing, the bookies flag it up.”
Betting in matches involving your own team is “not a done thing” in the game, he said. “I would never have done it myself. It would prey on your mind, before during or after the game. I’m not aware of any players I played with gambling on us in a game. It might have happened and I don’t know about it. But if I find any of my players betting on us or certainly betting against us, they’d be in a lot of trouble. I don’t understand players betting [in matches involving their own team]. I’m not going to cast aspersions here. The kid [Black] has not been found guilty, but it’s a serious charge I think.”