As Europol announce their investigation into Europe’s biggest ever match fixing, Next Goal Win’s looks back to 1964 and the football betting scandal which shook the English game to its core.
As Europol announce they are investigating match fixing into over 380 football matches, across 15 countries, this week, Next Goal Wins looks back to 1964 and the Great British Match Fixing Scandal. Three Sheffield Wednesday players were found guilty of match fixing via a tabloid trap, which when the story broke, it rocked the game to its very foundations.
On the morning of 12th April the Sunday People ran a story on match fixing within the English game. It claimed it had taped evidence where the players concerned had admitted their guilt in throwing a professional game in return for financial gain. There was an outcry that the people’s game could have been used in such a way. The evidence was passed to the police and the criminal investigation begun.
One of these players, Sheffield Wednesday’s top scorer David Layne, had played with Gauld at Swindon Town and was approached in November 1962 to help fix a game. Layne agreed to help, convinced by the possible lucrative returns. He suggested the upcoming visit to Ipswich, a game he said they had no real chance of winning as being the one.
To increase the chances of the fix, Gaul d recommended getting other Wednesday players on board by showing them; if they bet £50 on them losing they would receive £150. Layne did just that and bought on board colleagues Peter Swan and Tony Kay. It was on the morning of the game when Layne made the suggestion to the other two. As Kay later recalled, Layne said to them “What do you reckon? We never win here [Ipswich], tell you what, you give me £50 and I’ll turn it into £150, are you in?”
Given the size of the return, both players agreed. Swan and Kay thought it was all Layne’s idea and never suspected he was being coerced by anyone else and they never actually met Gauld. Swan was a regular England International and Kay was a star in the making having already been linked to a number of first division clubs. The game duly went the way of the bet with Ipswich beating Wednesday 2-0. The bets paid, the three players collected their winnings and continued their careers.
Swan and Layne continued with Wednesday, whilst Kay transferred to Everton just weeks after the Ipswich game for a then record British Fee. Periodically the press would publish an article which claimed match fixing was rife in the English game but it was always unsubstantiated and without proof and certainly no-one suspected the Ipswich v Wednesday game as having been fixed. All was quiet until 1964 when Gauld, having worked his way through all his winnings, decided on a way in which he could secure one final large payday.
He approached the Sunday People with his story and was paid £7,000. He agreed to tape the players admitting to their crime. Kay, who had never met Gauld before, was surprised when he turned up at his house claiming to be a friend of Layne. When he started asking him questions and he never for one moment thought, was he being taped? He was and the story broke in April 1964. The Sunday People handed over their evidence to the police and criminal investigations duly followed.
At their trial the following year all were found guilty of ‘conspiracy to defraud’. Gauld was sentenced to four years and was handed a £5,000 fine. The judge singled him out as the ring leader and made it clear he knew without him, this crime would not have happened. The other three were each jailed for four months and each handed a £150 fine. The final act was a lifetime ban from football for each of them. In total 33 players were prosecuted in the investigation, showing just how many games Gauld had been fixing.
Kay was interviewed by a newspaper soon after claiming they did not influence the result, the fact was Ipswich were just too good for them, fair and square. Swan claimed years later he would not have known what to have done to fix the game if they had have been winning. The ban was rescinded after eight years. Swan and Layne picked up their careers with Wednesday but Kay never returned to the game professionally.
The scandal was as big then as the Europol investigation is now. Some things do not change. The greed for the lure of big money pay-outs in return for fixing a game proves too strong for some. The one question I have though, is can one, two or even three people, guarantee to be able fix a game?
Remember, next goal wins.