One man remains in custody in relation to match-fixing inquiry

Nine of the men who were arrested have been released without charge

A further four men who were arrested on Wednesday in relation to alleged match-fixing in the League of Ireland have been released without charge, gardaí have said. One man remained in Garda custody on Thursday morning.

On Wednesday, 10 men, aged from their 20s to 60s, were arrested and taken to Garda stations in the Southern and Dublin Metropolitan Garda regions as part of a three-year investigation into the issue.

They were detained under Section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud contrary to common law.

Among those arrested were current and former League of Ireland footballers, including some who have played professionally.

Searches were also carried out, including at the homes of some of those arrested, and a number of phones were seized for analysis.

A Garda spokesman said on Wednesday night that five of those arrested had been released without charge and that files would be prepared for the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP). He said the five others remained in custody.

However in an update on Thursday morning, gardaí said four other men had since been released without charge, and files will be prepared for the DPP. One man remained in custody.

Detectives suspect relatively large numbers of people, mostly supporters of one club, bet that their team would lose specific fixtures. This created suspicious betting patterns, including the rate of winning bets spiking for some games.

There was also concern at some of the play during the games that were scrutinised, including the manner and timing of fouls and the times at which goals were scored, all of which can be bet on, and how these resulted in successes for punters.

In a brief statement on Wednesday, the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) said it noted the latest developments in the investigation.

“The FAI, in conjunction with UEFA, remains committed to a zero tolerance policy on match fixing. As this is now a legal matter we will be making no further comment,” it added.

The arrests were part of Operation Blackwood, and involved members of the Bribery and Corruption Unit, which is part of the Garda Economic Crime Bureau. Gardaí have already spent around three years working on the case.

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