Former Man Utd Star Paul Scholes Avoids Ban, Pays Nearly £10,000 to Resolve Soccer Betting Charges

Posted on: June 21, 2019, 09:45h. 

Last updated on: June 21, 2019, 09:45h.

English soccer legend Paul Scholes avoided a suspension but earned a fine for violating the country’s Football Association’s (FA) rules on match betting.

Former soccer star Paul Scholes must pay an £8,000 for breaking English Football Association rules regarding betting on matches. The former Manchester United star wagered on 140 games while owning a stake in a lower division squad. (Image: Barrington Coombs/Press Association)

The FA released a report earlier this week, in which it noted the former Manchester United and national team midfielder will pay an £8,000 fine as well as £1,800 toward the cost of the hearing that took place on June 12.

Two months ago, the association charged Scholes with misconduct after discovering he placed 140 bets on soccer matches over a nearly three-and-a-half-year span starting in August 2015. While he had retired from playing in 2013, he had taken on an ownership stake in Salford City FC, which plays in England’s fifth-tier professional league, during the time in question.

In interviews with FA officials, including the three-member commission which convened last week, Scholes pleaded ignorance on the association’s betting rules. The association amended those in the 2014-15 season to prohibit bets by players, officials, and club employees on any match around the world. He thought, erroneously, that he was only excluded from betting on Salford City matches or competitions, such as the FA Cup, where his club was still in the running.

The Commission accepted the undisputed evidence of (Scholes) that he had placed the bets in circumstances where he was unaware of the Rules,” the report stated. “He did so to enhance his enjoyment and interest in the matches and did not deploy any special knowledge. There could be no perception that the result or any other aspect of the matches could have been affected by the bets.”

The association chided the former star for not knowing the rules, especially since he had taken on a position with a club. However, they gave Scholes “considerable credit” for acknowledging the error and his cooperation.

The fine and hearing costs more than wiped out Scholes’ winnings. The FA’s report noted he bet £26,159 on the 140 matches, earning £5,831 in profit.

Bookmaker Tipped Off FA

The report states that in January, Paddy Power Betfair notified the association of the potential rules breach and shared Scholes’ activity. The FA then reached out to all British-based sportsbooks to share any accounts created by Scholes and Bet 365 responded.

In November, Betfair notified Scholes of the potential breach and closed his account. Even after that, Scholes tried numerous times to place bets on that account. However, the FA said no evidence was found to indicate whether the attempted betting activity was soccer-related.

Two months later, Scholes created the Bet 365 account and made two wagers on games involving Oldham Athletic FC. While Scholes would serve as manager of the fourth-division club for seven matches starting in February, the FA said the bets took place before any talks between Scholes and the club began about taking on the job.

Scholes told FA officials he opened the Bet 365 account in order to watch Oldham matches that were not aired elsewhere.

Scholes Also Warned

The fine was the unanimous ruling of a three-person commission, which also decided Scholes should bear the costs of the one-day hearing he requested.

While he escaped a suspension, commission members made it clear to Scholes that the FA would not accept a similar defense if he was charged again.

“It was apparent to the Commission that PS had not acquainted himself with the Rules despite his role in football and despite having effectively been notified by PPBF that he was potentially in breach of them,” the report stated. “We therefore considered it appropriate to warn him in relation to his future conduct.”

Scholes, who led Manchester United to 11 Premier League titles in his 20-year career with the team, has not been the only person investigated recently by the FA on betting allegations.  In December, the association charged Peterborough United director Barry Fry with placing bets on League One matches, and in November, similar accusations were made against Liverpool’s star striker Daniel Sturridge.

Fry resigned from his position in February after admitting he made the bets in an attempt to fund some of the club’s bonus payments. The FA fined him £35,000 and suspended him for four months. The Sturridge case has yet to be resolved.