A FORMER Hearts player who battled a gambling addiction has labelled the punishment handed out to midfielder Ian Black “a joke”.
Kevin Twaddle said high-earning players will not be deterred by the £7500 fine yesterday imposed on Black for gambling on matches, an act barred by the Scottish Football Association.
He believes illegal betting is “rife” in Scottish football and says the authorities should have made a stand, or not bothered.
He said: “When other footballers see this punishment it’s not going to put them off betting, which is absolutely rife in Scottish football. They had a chance to make a stand and set an example for the kids coming up, and they have completely failed to do so.”
Black, 28, who appeared 88 times for Hearts between 2009 and 2011, has been hit with a ten-match ban and a £7500 fine after admitting betting against his own team.
He will serve an immediate three-game ban, with another seven matches suspended for betting against the club he was employed by on three occasions, as well as placing ten further bets on his own side. He also admitted betting on 147 other games. Footballers registered in Scotland are prohibited from betting on any matches played anywhere in the world.
The offences occurred between March 4, 2006 and July 28, 2013. During this time Black played for Inverness Caledonian Thistle, Hearts and current club Rangers.
It is understood that he did not place bets on any games where he himself appeared.
Twaddle, 41, who bet tens of thousands of pounds in one day and even stole from his own family, said Black had been made a “scapegoat”.
He said: “I really don’t think this decision has set a good precedent for what may come in future. Three games and a £7500 fine is farcical, especially after all the media frenzy and hullaballoo over this. I know Blackie and it’s nothing against him, but it really is just a joke.”
Steve Kilgour, of the Federation of Hearts Supporters Clubs, said it was difficult to know if justice had been served.
He said: “Bets involving your own team are a big no-no, and only leads to questions and suspicion. But without knowing which games he placed bets on, it’s hard to say whether his punishment was enough.”
No-one from Hearts was available for comment.