FROME TOWN FC CLUB STATEMENT - NICK BUNYARD First it is important to say we in no way condone Nick’s gambling on football, against the FA rules, and fully accept  that he deserved to be reprimanded in some way.  There was never any suggestion of “match fixing” and no accusation of such. The offence was using inside  information (knowledge of injuries etc.) to gain an advantage over the bookmaker. Our disappointment lies in both the way the case has been handled and, we believe, the disproportionate  punishment in respect of the offence. This case first came to light in April and upon notification from the FA the Club suspended Nick with immediate effect whilst the investigation was undertaken. It is important to add that he admitted the charges immediately, and co-  operated with the enquiry from the early days. The FA then made Nick the subject of an Interim Suspension Order (ISO) banning him from “all football activity”  although he was still allowed to attend games as a spectator. Whilst we accept that a period of information gathering was required, to take 7 months from this point to reach a  hearing was too long and there is no doubt had he been a high-profile player/manager or Frome Town a high-profile Club this would have been dealt with in days or weeks – you only need to look at other recent cases to realise this. Delays for various reasons led to a date set in September then, a couple of days before the hearing we were advised of further allegations that needed investigating and the case was held up again. These last-minute additions, from an anonymous source, included a report that Nick was present at a match and talking to Josh Jeffries (current manager) in the dugout by telephone during the game. This was immediately rejected as Josh was proved to in Italy at the time of the alleged offence and Nick also was not present. The second offence for which he was charged and found not guilty was that of sending a text message to a player  whilst subject of the ISO. In relation to the actual charges of betting Nick admitted the offences and received a ban until July 2019 as published by the FA. When considering the length of ban, and £3000 fine we as a Club feel this is excessive, particularly in respect of the high-profile cases, none higher than the previous England Manager, who seem to be dealt with immediately. When the hearing finally took place this week I think it’s fair to say that everyone was glad to see the end of it after such a protracted period. It is important to add that, as a Club we have had to continuously chase the FA for  information and to ask them to speed up the progress as this has caused massive disruption to us, the players and the rest of the management team. We have, as yet, received nothing from the FA other than the statement published on their website and below, and subsequently sent everywhere via Twitter, BBC, SkySports etc. Presumably there will be a right of appeal although we have no details of this as yet, nor spoken to Nick as to whether this is a course of action he would wish to pursue. FA Statement 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 matchday 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 whilst Mr Bunyard was manager. The Commission found not proven an FA charge that he had allegedly breached a post-charge Interim Suspension  Order which was imposed on him on 24 June 2016.  In respect of the FA statement we have the following comments; 1. The statement specifically reports “45 bets were placed against Paulton Rovers FC & Frome Town FC whilst Mr. Bunyard was manager” – the clear majority of bets on his “own teams” were for them to win and in total Nick bet against his own team to lose in 8 games over the period. He did not bet on Frome/Paulton to lose 45 times as this appears to read. 2. The charge that was “not proven” as a breach of his ISO was for allegedly texting a player – we have already seen this reported as “betting again even after he had been warned”. There was no opportunity for us as a Club, or Nick as an individual to challenge the statement released. In terms of moving forward you may have seen on Nick’s social media that he has retired from all football with  immediate effect. We are sorry to hear this and wish him every success in whatever path he chooses to take going  forward. It is very disappointing for non-league football to lose such a committed individual and the level of support he has received from other manager and players speaks volumes. At a time where grass roots football is on its knees we cannot help but feel that driving people out of the game serves little purpose other than to “set an example.” This is acceptable only if the process is followed through and maybe the FA and gambling companies should consider how their relationship is best monitored and controlled? As a Club we have employed Josh Jeffries as manager since Nick’s original suspension and we hope he will continue in this role where he has been very successful to date. He and Nick were very close and this is a full conversation we are yet to have. It has been a very difficult and trying time for Nick, he will be missed at Frome as both a manager where for a short time he provided us with some of the best football in years but also as an individual who has just been great to have around the place. We wish him all the best for the future. Frome Town FC Board of Directors Published: 10/11/2016, 10:15 am