A player from Scottish League Two outfit Elgin City has appeared in court this week over alleged betting fraud offences.
The case will hear that Kane Hester deliberately got himself booked in a game against Hibernian so that he and three alleged co-conspirators could benefit to the tune of £13,583.
The 25-year-old denies all charges, which focus on the Betfred League Cup contest that took place in July 2019. Hester was booked by referee Willie Collum after appearing to stamp on Christian Doidge, with the accusation that three of his associates benefitted after placing a series of bets on him to be cautioned during the match at his side’s Borough Briggs Stadium.
The lawsuit, brought by a leading UK betting company, claims that more than £13,000 was paid out in winnings to the accused prior to the bookmaker conducting a formal investigation into the incident.
Their legal team claims that ‘….Kane Hester would purposely commit a foul during the course of the match and receive a booking from the referee.’
For now, the case has been adjourned and will be heard later in the year at Dundee Sheriff Court.
What are the Rules On Professional Footballers and Betting?
Each football association around the world has their own rules and regulations when it comes to betting, but of course in the absolute vast majority of cases it is prohibited for a professional footballer to bet on their sport.
Indeed, the Scottish FA (SFA) takes a zero tolerance policy on the matter, and has explicitly declared that gambling is prohibited on any football match at any time in any country.
According to the official SFA Disciplinary Rules framework, if found guilty Hester could face a number of punishments, ranging from a three-match ban up to a maximum possible fine of £100,000, or even expulsion altogether from football played under its jurisdiction.
He’s not the first to fall foul of betting breaches in Scotland. The highest profile case was that of Joey Barton, who was found to have placed 44 bets on Scottish football matches and many more in England – albeit none involving his own team. The severity of the suspension handed out by the English FA essentially ended Barton’s playing career.
The former Cowdenbeath player Dean Brett placed an astonishing 6,369 bets on football matches – eight of which were on his own team to lose. He was found guilty of betting fraud by the Scottish FA in 2017, and he was suspended for seven games. Brett now plays for amateur outfit Bonnyrigg Rose Athletic.
A former England C international, Lewis Horner was a promising youngster at Hibernian, but he too fell foul of his betting habits. The SFA found that he had placed a flurry of wagers – some betting against his own team – and he was suspended for eight games.
And then there’s the colourful Henry McClelland, the former Annan Athletic chairman and now SNP councillor. He was alleged to have placed thousands of bets while in charge of Annan – including hundreds placed on games involving his club – and he was fined £3,000. He is no longer their chairman.