Match-fixing syndicate originated outside Ireland, says Airtricity League director Fran Gavin

Following a lengthy and detailed investigation, the Football Association of Ireland's league director revealed that a foreign group is suspected of attempting to influence games
Airtricity League director Fran Gavin has suggested that forces from outside Ireland were involved in a match-fixing syndicate related to Ireland's domestic league.

The suggestion from Gavin comes after "the most detailed" investigation was carried out in relation to Longford Town player Colm James, who was banned for 18 months after he was found to have breached FAI rules concerning the "integrity" of the game.

Speaking to reporters, Gavin revealed that, while there was "no evidence", the Irish governing body is adamant that a foreign syndicate was involved in attempting to set up "an attack on the integrity of the league."

"It was the most detailed and the longest investigation that we've had into any disciplinary issue in the league," he told reporters.

"We interviewed over 50 people during several weeks and we strongly believe that there was a group involved in approaching the player from outside our jurisdiction.

"We have no evidence that any matches were fixed, but we think there was an attempt to set up a network to try and get games fixed. So, from our point of view, it was definitely an attack on the integrity of the league."

Gavin represented the FAI at a conference held by Europol in Italy in early 2013 which highlighted the widespread nature of match-fixing in football across Europe and the league director said said that those involved "don't care" how they make their money.

"Some of the instances that they reported on in Rome from around Europe would really make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up," he said.

"It's the way these people do it; the way they influence. Whether it's players or match officials. They're into making money and they don’t care how they do it."

Indeed, Uefa president Michel Platini last month warned of "mafia-like organisations that are using certain matches to launder money". Nevertheless, Gavin believes that the situation with Colm James has been thoroughly resolved and reiterated that there were "serious consequences" for anyone who was found to be involved.

He said: "We've addressed the situation in our rules. We've made it clear that if someone is approached at any stage, they're obliged to report it so that it's addressed. There are serious consequences for anybody involved in it.

"The temptation is there. It is greater with the less money people have and the more financial trouble they get into. We're in very tight times at the moment, so when people dangle something like this in front of a player or an official, they think about things like that.

"But there's a time when you make a decision – yes or no. It's important that we make sure everybody knows that, if you make the wrong decision, then we're going to come after you with everything," added Gavin.