Crewe United players fined and banned for betting on Irish Cup tie
IFA committee 'unconvinced' players acted independently
Five Crewe United players have been fined and banned for bringing the game into disrepute after placing bets on the club's Irish Cup tie against Warrenpoint.
The IFA said it would not name the players involved.
Crewe United, based in Crumlin, said only two of the five played in the game and they have apologised for their "misjudgement".
The club said it fully cooperated with the investigation and had been "completely exonerated of having any knowledge or involvement in the matter".
It said the players were Pearse Devine, Paddy Fox, Ciaran Burns, Michael Henderson and Ciaran Carson and were suspended by the club.
"The players admitted to placing bets on the game at the outset," the club said, "and did not seek to abdicate responsibility for their actions."
In February, the Belfast Telegraph revealed that the the Irish FA was investigating allegations linked to the match at the beginning of the month.
Warrenpoint beat the Mid-Ulster League minnows 5-0 to progress to the quarter-finals of local football's top knock-out competition. The Championship side, who are two divisions above Crewe, were 3-0 up with just over half an hour played.
Concerns over unusual betting activity were raised ahead of the tie at Milltown. In a highly unusual move, the match delegate read a pre-prepared statement to both teams and officials about inappropriate betting.
One bookmakers took a £600 bet on the game.
Under world football rules players are not permitted to bet on any game.
On Wednesday the IFA's Disciplinary Committee met. It heard how the five players admitted to breaching betting rules, but that they acted independently, however, the committee said it was not convinced.
In a statement, the IFA said: "The members of the committee, having considered the written and oral submissions from the club and the players concerned, were not convinced that the players had acted independently and feel that the IFA rules in relation to betting are clear.
"As a result the committee decided to sanction each player with a fine of £400 and impose a suspension from all affiliated football until 31 May 2018.
"Should the fine remain outstanding at this time the suspension shall continue until the fine is paid in full. The suspension will commence on Monday April 17, 2017.
"The committee wishes to express its concern at the negative impact betting on games can have on the game and urges all clubs, officials and players to familiarise themselves with the rules and regulations in relation to football."
The players can appeal the ruling.
Crewe United added: "The club fully co-operated with the IFA as part of their investigation and at no point was accused of any wrong doing.
This game was a momentous occasion for the club having reached the sixth round for the first time in our history. As a club we were deeply disappointed to be in the position of dealing with this matter, however, we hope that this case will help players to understand their responsibilities. As a club we will continue to move forward with our goal of continuous improvement on the pitch as well as our proud reputation of charity work and building bridges in our community."
Belfast Telegraph Digital