Gambling 'rife in Scottish football', says PFA Scotland chairman John Rankin

Celtic celebrate their Scottish League Cup final win
The Scottish League Cup is sponsored by bookmaker Betfred

Gambling is "rife" in Scottish football with managers, referees, directors and chairmen all involved, according to PFA Scotland chairman John Rankin.

His comments come in the wake of former Manchester City, Rangers and QPR player Joey Barton being banned for 18 months for breaking rules on gambling.

Players' union chief Rankin, who plays for Queen of the South, said: "We've imposed bans, that's not stopping it,

"It's rife, we're not hiding from it. The majority are probably doing it."

Bookmaker Ladbrokes has announced that its sponsorship of the Scottish Professional Football League will continue next season amid news that the Scottish Football Supporters Association urged a review of the game's links with gambling.

The Scottish football leagues, Scottish Cup, League Cup and some clubs are sponsored by gambling companies.

Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland's Sportsound, Rankin claimed: "It's not just players who are gambling. Managers, referees, directors, chairmen, they've all got inside knowledge.

"Are you telling me they don't have betting accounts? I would suggest they have."

Queen of the South midfielder Rankin admitted that Scottish football was reliant on sponsorship from betting companies.

Betting industry expert Scott Longley agreed and said: "A lot of clubs further down the leagues wouldn't be able to survive without the money that was coming to them via these sponsorships deals, whether that be shirt sponsorships or betting partnerships."

Their views came as Ladbrokes announced that it had agreed a one-year contract to continue its backing of the SPFL for a third season.

SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster said: "Ladbrokes has been a terrific and supportive lead sponsor for the SPFL over the last two years.

"We are thrilled to extend the partnership for next season, which is another clear message of confidence in Scottish football."

John Rankin (left) in action for Queen of the South
PFA Scotland chairman John Rankin (left) is currently playing for Queen of the South

Ladbrokes Coral chief executive Jim Mullen said: "We are passionate about the game and our love of football has helped to make the past two seasons hugely rewarding."

A Scottish Football Association spokesman said its guidelines were well-known.

"The Scottish FA takes its responsibility towards gambling within football seriously and has clear rules in place prohibiting gambling which apply to players, referees and directors," he said.

"In addition, we have delivered comprehensive gambling education workshops to all 42 SPFL clubs and academies.

"Scottish football has long enjoyed productive relationships with a number of betting companies and we are grateful for their continued support of our national game."

Scottish Senior Football Referees Association chairman Crawford Allan said that PFA Scotland had not voiced any concerns about referees being involved in gambling.

"As an association, we over time have informed all of our members that gambling on any football match is completely against the rules," he said.

"In my time, it has never been an issue and has never been raised as an issue."

Allan stressed that, while match officials are aware of the rules, they can have betting accounts as long as they are not betting on football.

"They can bet on horse racing or golf or any other sport, but not football," he said.

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