Ivan Toney speaks out on eight-month ban for betting: ‘I’m in football prison’.
Brentford striker Ivan Toney claims that his eight-month suspension for gambling has put him in “football prison,” and he has questioned the timing of the allegations that were brought against him.
Toney, who had 20 goals in the Premier League the previous year, was given a suspension in May after breaking 232 of the FA’s betting regulations.
The 27-year-old was, however, charged by the FA in November, excluding him from the England World Cup squad last winter in Qatar.
‘Personally, I feel like it was a bit of a questionable time when they decided to bring it all out, and then when they actually dealt with the situation at the end of the season, I felt like, ‘why did you bring it out then?’,’ Toney said on The Diary of a CEO Podcast.
‘Yes, I’m banned now, but the biggest punishment was me missing out of the World Cup, personally.
‘I felt more hurt and down around the time, like someone was out to get me at the time to stop me playing for England – in my head that’s how I saw it at the time – they want to punish me for this, playing for England at the World Cup – it’s everyone’s dream to play at the World Cup – and then further down the line ban me as well. It’s like a double hit.’
Toney also rejects claims that his gambling, which took place before his stint with Brentford in the Premier League, unfairly influenced games.
‘There were people saying it was match-fixing but none of it was match-fixing,’ the striker said.
‘I was betting on myself to score first from a while back and that’s not… I’m still trying to do the right thing.
‘It’s not like I’m smashing into people for a yellow card here there and everywhere.’
Toney is not allowed to play again until January 17 next year and has been banned from training with Brentford until September 17.
‘The whole football community is big on mental health and then the FA are going to do this and push me away. It’s not a place I want people to feel sorry for me. That’s the last thing that I want,’ Toney said.
‘So, what if someone not as strong as me in the head is going through this situation and their punishment is they are not allowed at the club – that would break them.
‘Right now, not being around the training ground, it does hurt me. I just know when I’m at the training ground, I train harder. It’s not a nice feeling. Not being allowed at the training ground is baffling to me.
‘I’m counting down the days until I can be training and around the boys. It’s like being in football prison at the moment.’