Sunday 16 June 2019

Former Athlone 'keeper Labuts not deterred by appeal setback

Former Athlone Town goalkeeper Igor Labuts. Photo: Sportsfile
Former Athlone Town goalkeeper Igor Labuts. Photo: Sportsfile
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

Former Athlone Town goalkeeper Igor Labuts is set to continue his battle to clear his name after an FAI-appointed Independent Disciplinary Committee rejected his appeal against a year-long ban for offences related to match-fixing.

Labuts and ex-Athlone team-mate Dragos Sfrijan were found to be in breach of FAI rules under the heading of manipulating matches, betting/gambling and bringing the game into disrepute.

The charges arose from a First Division match with Longford in April 2017.

Their bans have since expired but the pair still protested their innocence and instigated an appeal process with a view to clearing their record.

Sfrijan has since opted against continuing with that battle as he is now back living in his native Romania, where he secured a job outside of football.

However, Labuts, who has returned to Latvia where he is still active in the game, is determined to keep fighting his case.

He flew to Ireland for the latest hearing and is now expected to proceed to the next stage - which is an independent arbitrator - with the backing of the players union PFA Ireland.

The next step after that - if Labuts were to be unsuccessful - would be to take the matter to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Switzerland. Labuts is thought to be open to doing that.

Meanwhile, Ireland U-21 manager Noel King has continued his recruitment drive at that level by calling up English-born Coventry midfielder Jordan Shipley to his squad for their concluding European Championship double-header with Israel and Germany.

King's team still have an outside chance of making a play-off and he has called up League One regular Shipley for the away dates - even though the first-timer will be too old for this level once the campaign ends.

"We've been talking to him and chasing him so it's great to have it in," said King, who said he would hope to have more homegrown players in his squad in forthcoming campaigns.

"Change takes time. I think everyone is excited about the quality of youth players in League of Ireland clubs. Now you just have to hope the level rises."

King confirmed that in-form Portsmouth striker Ronan Curtis will travel with his side even though he was named in Martin O'Neill's provisional senior squad on Thursday.

Irish Independent

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