Wednesday 26 July 2017

Athlone goalkeeper was approached by match-fixing figures

Latvian keeper Igors Labuts
Latvian keeper Igors Labuts
FAI head of competitions Fran Gavin Picture: Sportsfile

Ryan Nugent and Aidan Fitzmaurice

The Athlone Town goalkeeper involved in the team's controversial defeat to Longford had previously admitted to being approached by figures connected to match-fixing at another team, but he didn't engage with them.

Igor Labuts, a former youth international with Latvia, arrived in the midlands earlier this year as part of a new-look Athlone Town side. He previously played with clubs in his native Latvia and Portugal.

The FAI has been contacted by Uefa in response to suspicious betting patterns while the game was in-play.

It is understood an FAI investigation will look specifically at the large number of bets placed late on in the game, predicting that Athlone - who were then losing 2-1 - would concede a third goal.

With three minutes remaining in the game and Longford leading 2-1, the odds on another goal being scored by either side was odds-on rather than odds-against.

This would be very unusual. The odds on a goal being scored with so little time remaining would be higher.

There was an indication that money was being wagered on another goal because the odds were shortening on the exchanges before the goal was scored in the 87th minute.

Read More: REVEALED - The betting anomaly which has triggered the FAI probe into Athlone Town

Anti match-fixing organisation Federbet, an organisation that has made presentations to the European Parliament, described the odds on a fourth goal being scored as 'crazy'.

The FAI will speak to players and staff at Athlone next week as part of their inquiry.

Goalkeeper Igor Labuts previously played for Lisbon outfit Atletico Club De Portugal.

This club was also earlier investigated by authorities. But there is no suggestion of wrongdoing by the player.

His two previous teams in Latvia, Jurmala and Ilukste, had been investigated over allegations of irregularities.

The keeper previously told a Latvian newspaper that he was "shocked" when he saw his name mentioned in Portugal.

"I know that I am clean but it's unpleasant and my reputation has been damaged," he told sportacentrs.com.

He also confirmed he had been approached by unnamed figures connected to match-fixing but said he did not engage.

Separately, the FAI will not disclose the names of unknown Athlone Town investors.

FAI head of competitions Fran Gavin revealed in an interview earlier this year that he had met with the investors.

He added: "You wonder about their motivation" and said it was something that the association would be keeping a close eye on.

But last night the FAI refused to give details about who Mr Gavin met in relation to Athlone Town. Attempts were also made by the Irish Independent to speak to Mr Gavin directly, but no contact could be made.

Irish Independent

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