Former City striker Kyle Lafferty opens up about his gambling addiction
PUBLISHED: 12:54 26 September 2017 | UPDATED: 19:50 26 September 2017
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Former Norwich City striker Kyle Lafferty has opened up about his gambling addiction from when he was a city player.
Talking to the BBC, the 30-year-old Hearts striker told the story of how he got into betting and the effects that it had on his life.
On Saturday, February 20 2016 he went into a bookmaker’s office in East Kilbride, Scotland and placed bets on horses and dogs. He lost but felt the need to keep going.
He noticed there were two La Liga games on in the evening and placed a bet on all four teams to score.
“I’d had a few winners the day before, so I had cash on me,” Mr Lafferty told the BBC.
“With the mindset I had, a grand was like a tenner. I knew it was against the rules to bet on football but when you’ve got an addiction you just want to win that money back. I knew it was wrong but I did it anyway.”
Mr Lafferty won the bet but received a charge from the Football Association and was found guilty. He was given a £23,000 fine in August last year.
“The punishment could have been a lot worse,” he said. “I was so honest they probably went easy on me.
“It was leading up to the Euros and I had all sorts going through my head, thinking I was going to be banned but I’d have had no-one to blame but myself had that happened. I put my career on the line.
“The FA helped me. I spoke to the Sporting Chance clinic and I was seeing a guy in London every one or two weeks for an hour-long meeting about my gambling.
“That was the cowardly way of doing it. You can just show face and give the impression that you’re looking for help and then half-an-hour later you’re probably in a bookies on the way home.
“Now I’m ready to say I’ve got an addiction to gambling.”
Mr Lafferty said when he first joined Burnley as a young professional, he was “betting on anything” and during his time at Rangers “didn’t have anything better to do after training than go to the bookies or sit online”.
“I know I’m going to take all sorts of grief off fans of other clubs,” he said. “It’s a big thing to do what I’m doing.
“I could have got help in private and nobody would have known about it. I want to do it publicly because I want to be honest and if there are any other footballers who are addicted to gambling, then maybe me speaking about my battle might help them.”
Lafferty’s time at City
Kyle Lafferty signed a three-year contract with the Canaries back in June 2014, in what would become a difficult time at the club.
The striker made his debut against Wolves in August 2014 before playing in 20 games, but was only able to net once, in a 3-2 home win against Cardiff City in January 2015.
In February of that year he was loaned to Super Lig club Caykur Rizespor where he managed to double his Norwich total, scoring two goals in 14 league games, for the Turkish side.
While he was on loan Norwich were promoted to the Premier League. He scored again in a League Cup win against West Brom but was not played regularly. He stay with Norwich until March 2016 before he joined Championship side Birmingham City on loan.
In May 2017 it was announced that he would be released after his contract expired.
He then joined Hearts in the Scottish premiership on a two-year deal.
Labour slams football betting sponsors
Kyle Lafferty’s openness about his gambling comes as the Labour party calls for a ban on betting companies being able to advertise and sponsor football teams.
Norwich City has already caused heated debates when they announced new their new sponsors Swedish betting company Leo Vegas.
Tom Watson announced the party would ban betting companies from advertising on shirts saying it should be treated the same as tobacco.
“Football has to play its part in tackling Britain’s hidden epidemic of gambling addiction. Shirt sponsorship sends out a message that football clubs don’t take problem gambling among their own fans seriously enough.
“It puts gambling brands in front of fans of all ages, not just at matches but on broadcasts and highlights packages.
“Clubs have a corporate social responsibility to their fans not to promote harmful products. Just as tobacco companies were banned from sponsoring sporting events and putting their logos on branded goods.”
Players fined for betting
Kyle Lafferty is not the only player to have been fined, or worse, for gambling on football matches.
Earlier this year Joey Barton was banned from playing and received a £30,000 fine after he was charged by the FA for misconduct and was accused of betting on 1,260 football matches over ten years, including games he played in.
Mr Lafferty is not the only City player to receive a fine for betting either. Fellow striker Cameron Jerome was given a £50,000 fine in 2013 for breaching betting rules while he was playing for Stoke.
Manchester City’s, now retired, Matin Demichelis was fined £22,000 last year after placing 29 bets on football matches in less than a month.
Englishman and Crystal Palace winger Andros Townsend, then at Tottenham, missed out on playing in the Under-21s Euros after he was fined £18,000 and banned for fourth months for breaching betting rules in 2013.