Part of me hoped I’d never have to write this article because I’ve always thought highly of Bradley Wood. However, this is a Lincoln City site and this is Lincoln City news.
The facts, as ascertained by the FA, are these. Bradley has been found guilty of 25 separate breaches of the FA’s rules, 23 of which he accepts and two of which he’s contested. The ones he’s admitted were seemingly bets placed on matches not involving him or Lincoln City, pretty much the same as Joey Barton was suspended for.
Brad’s defence, according to the FA papers is that he was placing bets for his Dad who wasn’t well in hospital. The account was in Brad’s name because his Dad didn’t have a bank card. Do you know what? That doesn’t bother me, not to the point where I feel let down. I could see that being plausible, the FA didn’t buy it, but it is possible. I have to order my mate’s season tickets because he can’t use Eventbrite, it is the same sort of thing, except me ordering an Eventbrite ticket wouldn’t result in my livelihood, and everything I’ve worked for being ruined. Whatever bets were being placed were in a player’s name, whether they were on his Dad’s behalf or not. It’s naïve, but it isn’t cynical. The FA had no choice but to uphold those and to his credit, Brad admitted them.
The big issue arises with two of the charges which he’s contested. There’s been much discussion on social media in the past, some of it scurrilous and some of it seemingly accurate. Having read the report, all 17 pages of it, I can summarise for you. Brad was charged with deliberately getting booked in the 90th minute of the Ipswich match, ironically committing the foul which led to us breaking up field and scoring. He’s also charged with deliberately getting booked in the match away at Burnley, picking up a caution in the 70th minute.
To what ends? Well, this is where brad has either been severely let down or his case falls down. The betting patterns on the ‘to be booked’ market were unique and enough to arose the suspicion of two betting companies. The names of those who placed bets are mentioned in the report but I’m not here to drag people down, just to examine the facts.
The betting patterns were irregular, the report states they were ‘truly exceptional when compared with the average stake’ in the market. The bets placed were all ‘significantly higher’ than anything the gamblers had placed before. The total number of bets placed, seven, won an amount of around £10,000 and of those seven, five were the maximum stake allowed by the betting company. Not one of those placing bets had gambled in this market before. Four of those betting were using their accounts for the very first time, with William Hill stating they’d ‘never seen’ a four-figure sum placed in the ‘to be carded’ market. That is why the betting pattern was unusual, that is why the FA have found Brad guilty of charges. The betting pattern is described as indicating ‘evidence of a betting syndicate’ and that the possibility of chance or coincidence is ‘fanciful’.
There’s other evidence, high volumes of text messages exchanged between different people in the case pointing to them needing to be in contact at the time of the offence, but throughout Brad has pleaded his innocence. What App messages that could have proven innocence (or guilt) either way were not seen, wiped by Brad and not produced by the other person.
The FA were unable to cross examine Brad also, he couldn’t obtain legal representation according to the report, but the FA wanted to ask him about ‘inherently improbable’ statements he had made.
In his defence, Brad urged the panel to look at the Ipswich incident again, asking why, if he had pre-planned to get booked, why would he wait until the 90th minute to do so? The foul wasn’t out of the ordinary, it was a typically cynical Wood challenge to stop a player breaking away, much the same challenge he’d be lauded for all season.
He also claimed to be a family man of good character and had cooperated with the investigation fully, as well as admitting charges 3-25 which would have spelled disaster for his career anyway. The defence point being if he’s going to admit those, why would he not admit the first two if he were guilty?
The rest of the report can be found here, detailing exactly what the other pertinent facts are and how they arrived at their outcomes. At present I haven’t contact Brad for a response, nor the club. I would imagine the club will have a stock answer prepared and they’ll want to be distanced from the situation, whereas I’m certain Brad has got more on his plate than my questions.
It is just so very disappointing, it puts a bit of a dark shadow over our superb cup run and it destroys the reputation of a player who all of us respected immensely. Whatever has happened is foolish, lots of fans have been badly let down. If it was a deliberate yellow card against Ipswich, they could have scored from that free kick. The fact we did is irrelevant.
If there is nothing untoward and his mates were placing those bets on him then clearly they’ve let him down, but the FA seem to think they’ve got a good grip of what happened. I’m not here to pass judgement, but I will say that the report doesn’t make good reading and if you’re a neutral picking it up, you’d almost certainly reach the same conclusion as the FA. I’m genuinely gutted, Brad is a likeable lad and his service to the club up to and even beyond the two incidents was first rate. I do wonder if some of the other issues, the situations which caused his Imps career to unravel, were partly down to the stress of this investigation.
A promising football career has been completely destroyed, the six-year ban means Brad will never play professionally again. He will undoubtedly stick to his story until the end of days, but at night, when the lights go out, only him and a handful of others truly know if he risked our FA Cup run, his adulation from the fans, his reputation and his entire career for a few thousand quid.