Fraser Wishart: PFA Scotland chief calls for gambling regulations to be examined

Fraser Wishart
Fraser Wishart is unsure whether Scottish football's gambling rules are fit for purpose

PFA Scotland's chief executive Fraser Wishart argues the effectiveness of Scottish football's gambling rules should be examined.

Scottish FA regulations prohibit players from betting on any football.

Annan Athletic chairman Henry McClelland and Inverness player Lewis Horner were this week charged by the national body with gambling offences.

"We have to have an adult conversation regarding a number of issues relating to gambling," Wishart said.

"The effectiveness of the rule when people are still gambling, is it fit for purpose in the modern day, why are individuals still gambling, are there financial problems, mental health problems, addictions behind the scenes?

"Since the rule was brought into place, there's been nobody charged with spot-fixing or match-fixing, which is very, very important, and therefore the game perhaps is suffering from poor headlines and I don't think the situation at the moment is helping the image of Scottish football."

'Certainly, we should be considering an amnesty'

Wishart admits he is uncertain whether the existing regulations are adequate, and reiterates his belief that Scottish football's authorities must join forces to tackle the problem.

"Sometimes I move from one side to the other," Wishart told BBC Scotland of his appraisal of the rules. "I can absolutely see why the rule is in place, because we want to stop and discourage people from spot or match-fixing. And that was the original purpose of the regulation.

"But since then, [the Scottish FA] have brought in a specific regulation that addresses spot and match-fixing, and has much, much heavier sanctions. If we sit in Scottish football as stakeholders and don't do anything, don't address or discuss the issues then I don't think we're doing our jobs.

"Because at the moment player after player, perhaps betting on games across Europe, now we've got a chairman and we may have others as well, traipsing up the steps at Hampden to massive negative headlines, and I don't think it's doing our game any good. I would just call for a proper and adult discussion on all these issues."

PFA Scotland's chairman, former Dundee United midfielder John Rankin, told BBC Scotland in April that gambling is "rife" throughout Scottish football.

Lewis Horner
Inverness player Lewis Horner has been charged with gambling offences by the Scottish FA

Ex-Inverness player Barry Wilson believes there should be an amnesty for players regarding historical bets - a suggestion Wishart says should be considered.

"Certainly, we should be looking at and considering an amnesty," Wishart added. "There are a number of people who have been charged for what are ostensibly historical issues going back a number of years when perhaps they weren't aware on the rules.

"So I thought perhaps an amnesty would give us a start from zero, and then with a renewed education programme we cam move on from there.

"We're trying to address the issue and the individual. We see the problems individuals have that perhaps people in the public don't see, where people have mental health problems, financial problems and addiction issues, which are huge things.

"I think we have to get away from the headline-makers - are people breaching the regulations? Yes, they are. That's wrong and if people are breaching a rule, we have to look at the effectiveness of that rule, and the issues around that, and that's where we're trying to take the conversation."

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