Football - Lennon: Can't bet against your team

Celtic manager Neil Lennon has been aware of a gambling culture within football his whole career but believes betting against your own team is taboo.

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Football - Lennon: Can't bet against your team
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Neil Lennon knows there is a betting culture but believes most players know not to gamble on their own side

Scottish football has been in uproar this week after Rangers midfielder Ian Black was charged by the Scottish FA with 160 alleged breaches of rules on gambling stretching back more than seven years .

A zero tolerance policy on gambling on football anywhere in the world is in place in Scotland, although several former players have claimed this week that betting is rife among footballers.

The former Crewe, Leicester, Celtic and Nottingham Forest midfielder backed those claims to an extent while adding the caveat that betting against your own team should always be "a no-go area."

The Northern Irishman said: "Since I have been in the game and before that, players, sports people and people in general have liked a punt, whether it be on horses, football, casinos or whatever.

"The serious issue is, you can't back against your own team and that is the case in all sports. It is illegal.

"I am certainly not aware of players at my club (doing that).

"In my time as a player in England I was aware of players who liked a coupon but there were some players who were heavy, heavy gamblers who went on to have major issues after they retired from football with debt, and it became a bit of an illness for them at times.

"But as I say, there is a no-go area and that's when you bet against your own team. That is illegal.

"It is none of my business what goes on at other clubs but certainly, if I found out that one of my own players was betting against my team, I would be very upset about it."

Celtic defender Charlie Mulgrew concurred with his boss's sentiments, saying: "I am sure a couple of players like a wee bet now and then.

"I haven't spoken about it to anybody, I am aware of the rules, I am not sure if everyone is.

"I would be disappointed if one of your team mates was betting against us, that wouldn't be a good thing for team spirit. I don't agree with that."

Motherwell manager Stuart McCall confirmed what seems like the endemic nature of gambling among the football fraternity but is relaxed about what he calls "fun bets" which do not involve players' own teams.

"The club has got a duty to ensure the young lads are not spending all their money in betting offices or gambling at any stage," he said.

"People who have gone down that road and come out of that black hole - and big Kevin Twaddle (former Motherwell player and recovered gambling addict) wrote a book about it - have come in and tried to teach them about it.

"But in a case where people betting a couple of quid on something, I have no problem.

"The staff used to do it here where four of them would pick a team.

"Might be Elgin, might be Hartlepool. The one that lets you down has to brings the cakes in on a Friday. It's a bit of fun.

"I don't see anything wrong with having a bet like that. I'm not talking about big money. Not betting on teams in your league.

"The other serious thing out there is if people bet against their own side. It is never to be condoned.

"I'm not talking about Ian Black because he has not been proved guilty of anything but anyone betting against their own side, it is totally unacceptable."

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