Kieran Trippier told friends ‘it’s happening’ and encouraged them to ‘lump on’ shortly before the full-back joined Atletico Madrid in the summer of 2019 from Tottenham Hotspur.
Yesterday, the FA’s independent regulatory commission released a full transcript of Trippier’s text exchanges with friends, justifying its decision with written reasons in the 41-page report. It stated that he ‘provided such reassurance’ to his friends who were ‘seeking reassurance’ over his transfer before placing wagers.
In December, the full-back was issued a 10-week worldwide suspension from football and a £70,000 fine for breaching the FA’s betting regulations, however, the ban was suspended earlier this week at the request for provisional measures by the La Liga club. He was found guilty of four violations of the FA’s betting rules, although the FA dismissed three additional charges.
England boss Gareth Southgate, former teammate Harry Kane, and former manager Sean Dyche all gave witness statements on behalf of the ex-Tottenham defender in advance of the hearing vouching for Trippier’s ‘good character and trustworthiness’.
Trippier, who was a part of two WhatsApp group chats with friends called ‘Pint’ and ‘Boys Promotions’, exchanged messages with one of his closest friends, Oliver Hawley, about his transfer from Tottenham to Atletico. In one passage, he assures Hawley that the move was ‘100%’ complete and encouraged his friend to ‘lump on if you want, mate’. However, he affirmed: ‘Don’t blame me if something goes wrong’, complete with laughing face emoticons.
His friend, who was initialised as ‘OH’, placed a total of 10 bets on Trippier joining Atletico, and his other friends placed bets ranging from £20 to £300 after Trippier told them about his medical going through before the £25 million move was confirmed on 17 July.
Furthermore, it was discovered that Trippier had deleted two messages shortly before Hawley placed two bets on him joining Atletico. The 30-year-old maintained that he couldn’t remember what the contents of the messages were, but it was alleged by the FA that Hawley was privy to inside information.
The commission claimed that Hawley was “a prolific gambler on sport and it beggars belief that his betting overall was dependent on inside information”. Hawley even discussed the odds with Trippier, informing him that he was now at ‘6/1’ to join the club. In one message, another of Trippier’s friends, Matthew Brady, tells him: ‘Could only put a little bit on mate, they massively restricted the bet. Keep me posted, pal.’
The commission rejected the regulatory defence, stating in the report: “We are not persuaded that KT has proved, on balance of probability, that he provided information in circumstances where he could not reasonably have known that OH would bet.
“In our view KT was given clear notice by OH that he was likely to bet yet, nonetheless, provided inside information.”
The two friends used several emoticons whilst communicating via WhatsApp, such as the laughing face emojis and ‘shifty eyes’ emojis. Although there is some “ambiguity” surrounding the exchanges and the text messages could be construed as ‘banter’, the FA rejected this notion.
The report concluded: “As we have found, objectively, the assumption by KT that OH was engaging solely in banter was not justified. Given the nature of their communications KT should have warned OH against betting upon his transfer but, instead he said or did nothing to discourage OH from betting. From that time onwards, KT should have known that the more inside information he provided to OH the more likely it became that OH would bet on his transfer.”