Sutton United’s Roly-Poly Pie-Eating Goalie Investigated by Gambling Commission

Posted on: February 21, 2017, 05:00h. 

Last updated on: February 21, 2017, 03:27h.

Sutton United’s inspirational “giant-killing” run in English soccer’s prestigious FA Cup came to an end on Monday night when they crashed out in the Fifth Round to Arsenal, losing a respectable 0-2 to a team of multi-millionaires ranked 105 places above them.

 Sutton’s Wayne Shaw eats pie
Wayne Shaw eats a pie during the Fifth Round of the FA Cup against Arsenal on Monday. Why all the fuss? One overweight goalkeeper’s pie has come to represent the very integrity of the soccer itself. (Image: BBC)

For the semi-professional minnows, languishing near the bottom of the fifth tier, it’s a fairytale to tell their grandkids.

It would be a shame, then, if this fairytale was forever overshadowed by the image of a large man eating a pie.

Wayne Shaw is Sutton’s 300 pound reserve goalkeeper, a man of unusual girth for a soccer player, whose pie-eating antics have caused a storm of controversy and prompted a investigation by the UK Gambling Commission.

The Football Association is considering taking action against the goalkeeper, and on Wednesday, reacting to the criticism, Shaw swallowed some humble pie and announced he would quit.

But what harm is there in eating a pie, other than to your cholesterol levels, you may ask.

The plot thickens when we learn that SunBets, the betting arm of tabloid newspaper The Sun, was offering 8-1 against such an event occurring during the match.   

Who Ate All the Pies?

But first, some cultural context for non-UK readers, who, we sense, are beginning to find all this a little baffling.

Pies, and invariably meat-filled pies, are synonymous at UK football grounds with being overweight. They used to be ubiquitous at food kiosks in stadiums, although not so much now because the British have since discovered they don’t taste very nice. 

However, their legacy remains in the form of a chant. If a player appears to have put on even a small amount of weight, the chant of “who ate all the pies?” rings round the ground.

So, the bet offered “Will Wayne Shaw be seen eating a pie during the game?” is a needle about the goalkeeper’s size, a kind of inside joke bet that would be immediately recognizable to all British soccer fans.

Pie-gate

The problem is, Shaw, known as the “roly-poly goalie,” actually was eating a pie during the match (he was on the subs bench, not playing), which begs the question, did someone put him up to the stunt in order to profit from it?

Soccer players are prohibited from gambling on their own sport in the UK and this includes bets on all aspects of the game, even on the probability that someone will ingest a pastry-based delicacy during the match.

“Integrity in sport is not a joke and we have opened an investigation to establish exactly what happened,” Richard Watson, the UKGC’s enforcement and intelligence director, said in a statement.

 “As part of that we’ll be looking into any irregularity in the betting market and establishing whether the operator has met its license requirement to conduct its business with integrity.”   

SunBets tweeted on Tuesday that it had paid out a “five-figure sum” on the bet.