The former Celtic and Scotland international Leigh Griffiths is reportedly helping police with their enquiries into an alleged football betting ring in Scotland.
Eyewitnesses claim that as many as ten police officers swooped on the 32-year-old’s home in Lanarkshire, before the striker was led away and taken to a Glasgow police station.
Griffiths, when later quizzed, revealed he hadn’t been arrested, was released without charge and was merely helping the police with an ongoing investigation. The striker denies any wrongdoing.
A statement from Police Scotland reads:
“Following a pre-planned police operation on Thursday, December 1, three men aged 37, 35 and 32 were arrested in the Bothwell, Bonnyrigg and Airdrie areas in connection with an investigation into alleged gambling incidents in sport.”
It has since been reported that the 35-year-old is believed to be Paul McGowan, the Dundee midfielder who once admitted to having a ‘problem with gambling and alcohol’ that has led to him being charged with assault on three separate occasions.
According to Scottish Daily Mail sports writer Stephen McGowan (no relation), the investigation centres around a Scottish Premiership game between Dundee and Hearts in December 2021.
Suspicious betting patterns on the cards market alerted anti-corruption officials, specifically relating to the number of yellow cards accumulated by Dundee players. Both McGowan and Griffiths, who has since been released by the club, were booked during the game in the space of four second half minutes.
Police Scotland question Leigh Griffiths and Paul McGowan over allegations of suspicious betting patterns during a game between Dundee and Hearts last December. pic.twitter.com/BClBroD5Of
— stephen.mcgowan (@mcgowan_stephen) December 2, 2022
On the Rise
The Scottish FA have a situation on their hands that is threatening to get out of control.
In 2022, no less than 14 professional footballers in the country have been accused of, or charged with, betting-related offences.
Six of them – Darryl McHardy, Thomas McHale, Matthew Cooper, Rabin Omar, Conor O’Keefe and Aiden Sopel – all played for Elgin City at the same time, along with Shane Sutherland and James McGowan.
Other players were also mentioned in the charge list, as were Morton manager Dougie Imrie and Cover Rangers assistant boss Gordon Young.
All were arrested on suspicion of breaching betting rules, with the most common being Rule 31 of the Scottish FA handbook: ‘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 gamble in any way on a football match.’
Imrie was later banned for ten matches, with four suspended, having been found guilty of betting on games between 2011 and 2019.
Young also received a ten-game ban, while Arbroath player Gavin Swankie was suspended for eight matches after being found to have wagered on games between 2012 and 2021.
English football is not without its own gambling issues, with Kieran Trippier, Daniel Sturridge and Joey Barton all charged with various offences. Ivan Toney’s ongoing investigation is thought to have cost him a place in England’s World Cup squad, too.