Professional footballers who gamble

Charlie Austin

Southampton striker Charlie Austin is one of the more recognisable faces on the race track these days, and currently runs the highly successful ownership syndicate ‘Excel Racing’ which includes horses such as ‘Another Batt’, an impressive winner recently on the opening night of the Dubai Carnival.

Austin himself has been in and around the racing community from an early age, being raised in the town of Hungerford, just a few miles from the ‘Valley of the Racehorse’ that is Lambourn in Berkshire and continued his love affair with the sport when his achievements on the field enabled him to get involved in the ownership side of the game.

Excel Racing look to be going from strength to strength, offering racehorse ownership at reasonable prices, and the chance to enjoy the sport with Austin himself, and have horses in a number of high profile yards such as Warren Greatrex, Marco Botti, Tom Dascombe and Ed Walker. As you can imagine with a contact book as valuable as a leading Premier League striker’s, his runners often don’t go unbacked when seemingly well fancied, and can only imagine that Austin himself would be no stranger to the betting ring.

Mick Quinn

Following in the footsteps of former England International Mick Channon, ‘Quinny’ also made the transformation from leading striker to horse racing trainer, and still operates his string from racing’s HQ in Newmarket, Suffolk.

Quinn was one of the more colourful characters during his playing days, as was well documented in his autobiography ‘Who Ate All The Pies’ where he made no secret that gambling and racing had been part of his life from an early age, and often dashed from training in the mornings for an afternoon at the track.

Quinn’s runners are always to be respected when well backed, and certainly knows when he has a good horse on his hands and does particularly well with sprinters, as highlighted with Angus Newz – a four-time winner at Listed Class a few years back.

Trainer Mick Quinn chats with Jockey Franny Norton

Paul Merson

One of the more high profile cases in recent years of footballers who have been known to enjoy a flutter is that of former England international Paul ‘The Magic Man’ Merson. Merson had an illustrious career, starting out in the formidable George Graham Arsenal side of the late 80s and early 90s, before moving on to have successful spells with clubs such as Portsmouth, Aston Villa and Middleborough.

Merson later suffered darker times, experiencing problems with alcohol, drugs as well as gambling and later claimed to have blown a mind-boggling £7million pounds from his playing career, including cashing in a £800,000 pension to go on a gambling spree.

At the lowest point of his gambling life, Merson admitted he would be betting on anything that was happening at the time – as much as £20,000 on an NFL game late on a Sunday evening, or £10,000 on the Eurovision Song Contest.

Merson is now a successful pundit with Sky Sports, and though admits to still liking a bet now and again, only bets what he can afford to lose and has successfully battled his demons with both drugs and alcohol.

Didi Hamann

Hamann now regularly writes for the betting trade publication ‘The Racing Post’ giving his thoughts and expert insights on the upcoming football action from across Europe, but times haven’t always been so good for the former Germany, Liverpool and Manchester City star.

Hamann openly admits to having problems with gambling and alcohol, and was betting in such large stakes that he lost over £280,000 in a single night when Australia collapsed in a Test Match against South Africa.

In extracts from his autobiography ‘The Didi Man’ he stated that the breakdown of his marriage was the catalyst for his gambling, and soon got involved with spread betting companies – where wins and losses can be extreme compared to the amount you are staking, and the volatility took its toll on Hamann who thankfully addressed the problem sooner rather than later.

Kevin Doyle

For many footballers who like a day at the races with team-mates, or a flutter in their spare time – they often have that someone ‘in the know’ to help mark their cards for that day, and for many that man was none other than the former Republic of Ireland and Wolves Striker, Kevin Doyle.

Doyle’s background is steeped in racing, with father Paddy the breeder of the Cheltenham Festival winner Holywell – trained by Irish racing legend Jonjo O’Neil.

Kevin himself is no on-looker, and actually signed the cheque at Tattersall’s Ireland sale for Augusta Kate – paying €85,000 for the mare, who was then later sold to a syndicate that included Alan Shearer, TV Stars Ant and Dec, leading racing owner Graham Wylie and trained by Ireland’s Champion Trainer, Willie Mullins.

With such an impressive contact book within the Irish racing scene, it is no surprise to see why Doyle was many footballers’ go to man when it came to a big day at the races and is sure to be no stranger to a wager himself.

Lee Power

Now a successful racehorse owner and Chairman of League Two Swindon Town, Power started his playing career with Norwich City, before plying his trade with clubs such as Bradford City and Peterborough United. He also gained 13 caps for the Republic Of Ireland Under 21’s before ending his playing career and making a successful move into the world of business.

Power owns a string of racehorses with a variety of trainers across the country, and the layers often run scared as soon as there is a hint of support for one of his runners – the majority of which carry his easily recognisable green and white chequered silks.

He seems to have a knack of placing his horses in very shrewd yards known for their ability in landing a touch, and has some of the leading riders in the country seemingly keen to ride for him when the big day is on the cards.

Powers colours have pulled off a number of major touches over the years and all his runners are worth a second look and treated with caution as the market will often tells its own story, such is the impact of Power’s betting activities within the betting jungle.

Wayne Shaw tucks into a pie on the sidelines during Sutton United’s FA Cup defeat to Arsenal.

Wayne Shaw

Though not a house hold name for his footballing ability, Shaw made the headlines in 2017 for the episode now fondly remembered as ‘Piegate’!

Shaw was deemed to be one of the game’s ‘good-guys’ – a larger than life character who was not only the reserve team goalkeeper for National league side Sutton United, but also added the roles of Goalkeeping coach, pitch caretaker and community liasion officer to his C.V, a real unsung hero for fans of the club.

Sutton United at the time were in the process of a dream F.A cup run, and the magic of the cup matched the side with none other than Premier League giants Arsenal, to be screened live on national T.V, bringing the minnows much required financial assistance and the chance for many to have their big day in front of a worldwide audience.

To many of the viewers, Shaw actually looked like he had just stepped out of the pub, and rumours suggested he even joined a group of fans in the boozer at half time. He was clearly loving the limelight having been featured in the national newspapers in the build up to the contest.

As the game progressed, the big giant killing many would have tuned in to see didn’t prevail, with Arsenal proving too strong and coasting to a comfortable 2-0 victory. That was, until the 83rd minute – when, with the game out of reach and the Premier League giants counting down the clock and advancing into the next round, the camera scanned to Shaw in the dugout, happily scoffing his face with a tasty looking pie!

This is when things turned sour for Shaw. In the aftermath it was revealed that UK sportsbook Sun Bets offered odds of 8-1 that he would eat a pie on camera during the match. He knew about the bet and scoffed down the food, saying it was for “a bit of banter” – and nothing more.

This is when the shit really hit the fan. The Football Association launched an inquiry to determine whether he breached its gambling regulations and it was even suggested he could have committed a criminal offence, and be facing two years in prison. Shaw resigned from his positions at Sutton shortly afterwards and was later charged and fined by the F.A and suspended for two months.