Gareth McKeown: Carrick defender banned for rest of season for betting offence

Gareth McKeown (left) in action for Carrick Rangers against Linfield on 30 January
Gareth McKeown (left) moved to Carrick Rangers from Glenavon last month

Carrick Rangers defender Gareth McKeown has been banned for the rest of this season and handed a £1000 fine for a breach of the Irish FA's betting rules.

The offence centred on games which took place before the player's move from Glenavon to Carrick last month.

An Irish FA statement said McKeown, 32, had admitted the breach at the outset of Wednesday's disciplinary hearing.

McKeown was not involved himself in the games in question but was found to have given information to his grandfather.

The games involved are understood to have included Irish Premiership and Reserve League matches.

"Mr McKeown was legally represented at the hearing yesterday evening and admitted to the breach from the outset," said Thursday's Irish FA statement.

"He confirmed that he was unaware that providing friends and family with inside information was a breach of Irish FA and NIFL rules as well as a breach of his contract with Glenavon (his club at the time).

"He did not bet himself on the matches but set up an account for his grandfather using his name and account information."

McKeown joined Carrick after losing his regular starting place at Glenavon.

First up, McKeown, 32, will miss Carrick's Premiership game against Dungannon at Seaview on Thursday.

McKeown has the option of appealing against the penalties to the Irish FA's appeals board.

The defender's suspension is a further blow for Carrick after the well publicised pitch problems at their home venue which has forced them to move their next three home games to Seaview.

Carrick are currently 11th in the Premiership table and are now only three points ahead of Warrenpoint Town following the county Down club's recent impressive run.