Gardaí to press for criminal charges in League of Ireland match-fixing investigation

While 15 people have been arrested, it is expected that a smaller number would be charged

Gardaí investigating allegations of match fixing in the League of Ireland, centred on matches played by the now defunct Limerick FC, are nearing the end of their inquiries and hope to send a large file to the DPP shortly, with recommendations for criminal charges against some suspects.

It is alleged some former players communicated with each other and with third parties about bets that should be placed on the likelihood of playing incidents, such as throw-ins and yellow cards. Other aspects of the inquiry have focused on betting patterns around goals and match results.

While 15 people have been arrested to date, it was expected criminal charges, should they eventuate, would be pursued against a smaller number of suspects. The latest person to be detained, a former League of Ireland player, was arrested on Tuesday morning and released later in the day.

Like all of the men detained to date, the former player detained on Tuesday was released without charge. However, the replies the arrested people gave to detectives interviewing them when they were in custody will be added to evidence the Garda has gathered and all of the material will be submitted in a criminal final to the DPP.


Some of the evidence gathered includes messages found on mobile phones during searches, including during a number of days of action in the inquiry last year. Telephone traffic between those phones has also been analysed. One aspect of the inquiry has been the nature of communication between some of the former players and other people known to them, which allegedly resulted in large bets being placed on some match outcomes and playing incidents.

Gardaí have closely studied bets and The Irish Times understands some of the people who placed them have been identified and their alleged actions form part of the inquiry. While the investigation, by the Anti-Bribery & Corruption Unit of the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau (GNECB), has been ongoing since 2019, no file has yet been sent to the DPP for consideration. However, Garda sources said developments in that regard were expected soon.

The criminal investigation, Operation Brookweed, began in 2019 when UEFA passed information to the FAI about alleged irregular betting practices on a number of League of Ireland games in the 2018-2019 period.

The FAI in 2019 confirmed two investigations were under way into alleged unusual betting patterns on two football matches involving Limerick FC. Mobile phones held by some Limerick FC squad members were seized during a search at the time, by gardaí. That operation, during a training session by the club at the Hogan Park grounds in Rathbane in Limerick, was carried out by the GNECB along with local gardaí.

Speaking to The Irish Times at the time, Stephen McGuinness, general secretary of the Professional Footballers’ Association of Ireland (PFAI) said some Limerick FC players there “had their phones taken off them”.

Further searches were carried out in January 2020 as part of an inquiry. On that occasion, phones, electronic devices, a stun gun and €20,000 in cash were seized, though no arrests were made. Last May ten suspects, including two current and five former players, were arrested in Dublin and the southwest. Searches were also carried out, including at the homes of some of those arrested, and a number of phones were seized for analysis.

As well as the current and former players questioned, other men who know some of the players were also detained on suspicion of helping to fix specific playing scenarios and results. There were three further arrests last September.

Conor Lally

Conor Lally

Conor Lally is Security and Crime Editor of The Irish Times