London (AFP) – Laughter turned to tears for Sutton United’s reserve goalkeeper Wayne Shaw on Tuesday as he left the club after it emerged the Football Association had launched an investigation into whether their betting rules had been breached.
The FA and the Gambling Commission launched their separate inquiries over claims Shaw’s eating of a pie in the final minutes of the 2-0 loss to Arsenal in their FA Cup fifth round clash on Monday had been so friends of his could win a bet.
The portly 46-year-old — a former Southampton youth team-mate of England icon Alan Shearer — told the Daily Mail that while he had not placed a bet at odds of 8/1 of him being caught on camera eating a pie, several of his friends had.
He subsequently told BBC Radio on Tuesday he had eaten it because he was hungry after missing a meal during the day.
However, Sutton manager Paul Doswell told Sky Sports News that Shaw — who was also involved in the club’s disabled team — had left the club with immediate effect.
“He’s left as of now with a heavy heart on my part,” said Doswell, a good friend of Shaw, known as ‘the roly poly goalie’.
“He’s made an error of judgement, a costly one on his part. He was in tears and crying down the phone.”
An FA spokesperson said: “We are investigating to establish whether there has been any breach of The FA rules relating to betting.”
The Gambling Commission has also opened an enquiry as to whether the bookmaker has “met its licence requirement to conduct its business with integrity”.
– ‘Bit of banter’ –
Shaw, who was released by non league Sutton for an earlier incident in 2013 when he climbed into the stands having taken exception to remarks made about his physique by fans, laughed off his eating the pie seven minutes from the end of the 2-0 defeat as a “bit of banter”.
“I think there were a few people (who placed bets). Obviously we (the players) are not allowed to bet. I think a few mates and a few of the fans (did),” Shaw told the newspaper.
“I thought I would give them a bit of banter and let’s do it. All the subs were on and we were 2-0 down. It was just a bit of banter for them. It is something to make the occasion as well and you can look back and say it was part of it and we got our ticket money back.”
However, The Gambling Commission, which licenses and regulates gambling in Britain, says it is looking into whether there was any “irregularity in the betting market and establishing whether the operator has met its licence requirement to conduct its business with integrity”.
“Integrity in sport is not a joke and we have opened an investigation to establish exactly what happened,” said enforcement and intelligence director Richard Watson.
The bookmaker in question — who sponsored the Sutton shirts for the match — tweeted it had paid out a “five-figure sum” to one punter who had bet on Shaw to eat the pie.
Club chairman Bruce Elliott told BBC Radio that Shaw could not resist garnering publicity.
“He has got himself in the papers again and the fame obviously has gone to his head a little bit, but we will soon bring him back down to earth, don’t worry about that.”
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