Nick Bunyard, the manager of non-league football club Frome Town, has claimed he has been made a scapegoat after being banned from all football until 2019.
The Football Association (FA) has banned Bunyard after a commission found him to be guilty of placing 45 bets on his own teams between September 2014 and April 2016.
The FA has imposed the ban after he admitted to the misconduct charge in relation to the FA Rule, which prohibits anyone involved in the game from betting on any football matches worldwide.
An FA statement read: “Frome Town manager Nick Bunyard has been suspended from all football and football related activity until 1 July 2019 and fined £3,000 after breaching The FA’s Betting Rules. For the duration of the suspension, which is effective from 19 April 2016, he must not attend any ground at which Frome are playing on a match day at any level.
“An Independent Regulatory Commission heard how Mr Bunyard admitted misconduct in relation to 97 breaches of FA Rule E8(1)(a)(i) relating to betting activity between 13 September 2014 to 9 April 2016. Of the 97 bets, 45 were placed against Paulton Rovers FC and Frome Town FC while he was manager.”
Bunyard told the Wiltshire Times: “Some people might look at this and question my integrity but match-fixing wasn’t on the charge sheet. Sometimes, I bet on us to lose and sometimes, I bet us on to win. One example was a match away at Redditch United with Frome (on March 21). We had nine first-team regulars missing and they were top-of-the-league.
“We were actually 1-0 up and were only robbed by the referee to allow them an equaliser, and anybody who was at the game would have seen how animated I was and how much I wanted us to win. You could say that the injuries were insider knowledge, but anybody picking up the paper that morning would have known about them too.
“I was naïve and I hold my hands up for that because I deeply regret what I’ve done, but I feel like I’ve been made a scapegoat. I know so many people across non-league football that bet on matches. It’s systemic and it’s one of those things that people do to soften the blow after a game. I never profited from those bets and I just moved on.”