It has been revealed today that former Sutton United goalkeeper Wayne Shaw has been charged for breaching two of the FA’s regulations on betting.
He is alleged to have intentionally influenced a betting market after he ate a pie on the sidelines during Sutton’s 2-0 FA Cup defeat to Arsenal. The Sun’s betting arm, Sunbet, offered odds of 8-1 Shaw would eat a pie on telly. Sure enough with around ten minutes left the rotund keeper was spotted tucking into a pie. Cue hilarity from one side of the fence and indignation from the other.
At the time yours truly wasn’t too happy with his actions, I felt he’d let us all down by munching on his pastry-based snack. Very soon a furore broke out over his behaviour and he left Sutton United. He is now not only charged with influencing the betting market, but he’s also alleged to have brought the game into disrepute.
An FA statement read: “It is alleged the former Sutton United goalkeeper intentionally influenced a football betting market during The Emirates FA Cup fifth round tie against Arsenal on Monday 20 February 2017, contrary to FA Rule E5(a). In addition, it is alleged he acted in a manner which was improper and/or brought the game into disrepute, contrary to FA Rule E3(1).”
After ‘piegate’ Shaw said he began to struggle with depression, stressing he made no money out of the situation. He didn’t bet on himself, and speaking to Five Live in May he told his story, the story of a broken man abandoned by his club and left in the gutter.
“My world fell in. I was in tears. I had never been sacked in my life. It’s on my mind every day, it probably will be for a long time. I’ve been through depression. I wasn’t sleeping right, I could feel myself getting stressed. And I’ve still got that knot in my stomach. The following afternoon it was a situation where I either resigned or they sacked me. No-one asked for my side of the story. The club’s knee-jerk reaction was that they wanted nothing to do with it. I haven’t made any money and my friends haven’t made any money. I probably got carried away, after a whole career of having the mickey taking out of me. That was all it was meant to be.”
At the time I wasn’t happy because I felt Shaw had played to the stereotype of the non-league, unfit amateurs larking about with pies and beer. Given that them match held a vested interest for us too I felt we became associated with the unprofessionalism, purely by being the same level and Arsenal’s next opponents. I’ll confess Shaw didn’t help himself in my eyes when he chummed up to Piers Morgan the next day. Morgan, like The Sun, were using Shaw for their own means. He even introduced him on Good Morning Britain the next by offering Wayne six cornish pasties in exchange for him making the transfer to Arsenal. Public fat-shaming all in the name of good banter? Well done Piers you odious creature, his career and life are in ruins, now where are you? Nowhere to be seen, the big funny fat man isn’t in vogue anymore so just like the Sun you’ve scurried off leaving your figure of fun to fend for himself.
I’ve been pretty angry about this story all day, but this time not with Wayne Shaw. What he did was stupid and painted the league in a bad light, but was it against regulations? He didn’t influence the outcome of a game, he didn’t cheat or offer an advantage to anyone on the field. He didn’t, in my opinion, detract from the integrity of the sport. He did damage the integrity of Sutton United and himself, but did his actions make anyone feel more uneasy about Premier League players ad betting? Did he damage the integrity of the sport completely? Of course not, that is a job for Sepp Blatter or the people spending abhorrent transfer fees on average full backs. Wayne Shaw didn’t damage the whole game.
I’d argue he was always going to influence that bet, whichever way he went. The Sun weren’t ashamed of promoting it pre-match, essentially poking fun at the tubby goal keeper, but as soon as they put the embarrassing odds up they put him in an untenable position. By offering such a stupid market they immediately ensured he influenced the outcome of the bet, no matter what he did. They weren’t offering a market on something with a competitive outcome, they were offering a market on one man’s behaviour, Then they publicised it. He would have been aware once it was in the public domain, and from that point on he had a conscious decision to make, whatever he decided he was influencing the outcome.
If he hadn’t eaten a pie I’d argue he would have been just as culpable by not doing. Punters who bet that he had eaten one could argue by not doing he was influencing the outcome unfairly. As soon as the Sun put the cruel odds up, Shaw was on to a loser. The fact he ate the pie was poor judgement, be in my eyes he’s a victim here of the cynicism of that hated rag.
Similarly, has he brought the game into disrepute? He was a reserve keeper at a part-time club in London, his profile was high for 24 hours whilst the mainstream media poked fun at him and essentially degraded him for a baying public. Look at the fat goal keeper, how funny is he? Look again at the fat man, I bet he eats a pie. Would you bet he eats a pie? Why don’t you with our special fat-man-eats-a-pie-on-telly odds.
In truth, it was disgusting coverage mocking the good work he did at the club and mocking Sutton United too. Where was the focus on Roarie Deacon, Maxime Diamou or Nicky Bailey? Why did it have to be Wayne Shaw that the tabloid scum focused on? Because they didn’t cover the game seriously, they did it by trying to humiliate the keeper and degrade Sutton United in the name of ‘banter’.
Shaw did a stupid thing, but he didn’t bet himself, he didn’t influence the outcome of a sporting fixture and he should not be punished further for his actions. To drag this up again now is counter productive, he should be left alone to try to rebuild his life the best way he can. As for bringing the game into disrepute, maybe the FA should look to Shaun Harvey of the EFL, as I think rigging a cup draw brings the game into more disrepute that a fat guy eating a pie. Maybe they should look at the comments made by the Premier League to Accrington Stanley recently, the thinly veiled threats to cut of the dribble of loose change that finds its way down to League Two? That brought the game into more disrepute than anything Shaw did.
The real problem here is the influence and actions of SunBets and all the gambling companies that offer ‘novelty’ odds such as these. It is The Sun and its betting wing that did the damage that day, they hijacked Sutton’s big day by throwing money at them, and then they humiliated one of their characters with a discriminatory betting market that he couldn’t avoid seeing or influencing. They gave him a choice, he made the wrong choice and now his life is in tatters. They’ve dropped their ‘darlings’ Sutton like a stone, and the club are nowhere to be seen as he tries to rebuild his life. The media washed their hands of Sutton, and Sutton washed their hands of Shaw. Where is Piers Morgan now? Where is the caring Sun now? They’re nothing but parasites exploiting teams and players for their own ends and then walking away scot free.
I say the FA should find Wayne Shaw not guilty and leave him alone. He was stupid, but not to a point where he should be driven to depression and beyond. It’s time to leave ‘Piegate’ where it belongs, in the past.