Sutton’s Wayne Shaw resigns over pie-eating controversy
Inquiry begins after reserve keeper says he was aware of 8-1 odds against him eating pie
Sutton’s reserve goalkeeper Wayne Shaw eats a pie on the touchline during his club’s FA Cup clash with Arsenal: Shaw said he was aware that Sun Bets was offering odds of 8-1 against him eating a pie on the bench. Photograph: BBC/PA Wire
Sutton United have accepted Wayne Shaw’s resignation after the English Football Association and Gambling Commission confirmed they are investigating the reserve goalkeeper for admitting that he knew a betting company was offering odds of 8-1 against him eating a pie on the bench during the club’s 2-0 defeat by Arsenal in the FA Cup.
The FA is considering taking action after Shaw was captured eating a pie towards the end of Monday night’s fifth-round tie at Gander Green Lane, with the manager, Paul Doswell, confirming on Tuesday that the 45-year-old had agreed to offer his resignation as a result.
“It’s been very disappointing,” said Doswell. “I woke up this morning to this storm of criticism and it’s something that we have dealt with quickly as a club. Wayne himself has offered his resignation to the chairman and it’s been accepted. There were tears down the phone this afternoon. It’s a very sad end to what was a very good story.”
A spokesman for the FA had earlier confirmed it is looking into whether any of its rules had been breached, while the regulatory body for Britain’s multi-billion pound gambling industry also revealed it is already looking into the incident to ensure Sun Bets had conducted its business “with integrity”.
The Gambling Commission enforcement and intelligence director, Richard Watson, said: “Integrity in sport is not a joke and we have opened an investigation to establish exactly what happened. As part of that we’ll be looking into any irregularity in the betting market and establishing whether the operator has met its licence requirement to conduct its business with integrity.”
After the match, Shaw made no secret of the fact that he had been aware of the bet, telling reporters he had pulled off the stunt to give fans “a bit of banter”.
“A few of the lads said to me earlier on: ‘What is going on with the 8-1 about eating a pie?’ I said: ‘I don’t know, I’ve eaten nothing all day, so I might give it a go later on,’” he said. “Sun Bets had us at 8-1 to eat a pie. I thought I would give them a bit of banter and let’s do it. All the subs were on and we were 2-0 down.
“I went and got it at half time from the kitchen, I had it all prepared and ready to go. It was meat and potato,” added Shaw.
Asked if he knew anyone had backed the bet, he replied: “I think there were a few people. Obviously we are not allowed to bet. I think a few of the mates and a few of the fans. It was just a bit of banter for them. It is something to make the occasion as well and you can look back and say it was part of it and we got our ticket money back.”
The FA’s rules on betting state: “A participant shall not bet, either directly or indirectly, or instruct, permit, cause or enable any person to bet on (i) the result, progress, conduct or any other aspect of, or occurrence in, a football match or competition.”
Some of the gloss had already been taken off the build-up to the National League side’s fifth-round tie with Arsenal when the club denied accusations that they had censored a group of supporters from a club forum after they voiced their opposition to the Sun’s sponsorship of the club for Monday’s match in place of their usual sponsor, Green Go Waste.
Sutton had earlier promised that Shaw will be brought “back down to earth” after his publicity stunt failed to impress the club’s hierarchy.
Speaking on BBC 5 Live, Sutton’s chairman, Bruce Elliott, said: “If you knew the roly poly goalkeeper you probably wouldn’t be very surprised. But Wayne is a top man. I didn’t know anything about it. He has got himself in the papers again and the fame obviously has gone to his head a little bit, but we will soon bring him back down to earth, don’t worry about that.”
Doswell, who also employs Shaw as part of his coaching team, said: “Wayne has become a global superstar on the back of being 20st. He’s made that a chance to get more media coverage off the back of it. It wouldn’t surprise me. I don’t think it shows us in the best light.”
“We have done the non-league proud,” he said. “They are 105 places above us in the pyramid. Those lads won’t walk properly tomorrow. The problem in sport is when you have lost you feel disappointed but they put this club on a worldwide map.
“It is a different world,” he added. “My lot will go to work tomorrow. They are movie stars with James Bond security. You can’t get near them.”
It was more of an observation than a direct criticism. “I totally get it. Unfortunately that’s the world we live in. I saw a few idiots shouting and screaming at Wenger and Arsenal players. They’ve got to be protected from those type of people.” – (Guardian service)