The Curious tale of the Goalkeeper and the Pie

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For those that follow football, you’ll no doubt have read the news regarding Sutton United’s reserve goalkeeper, who has unfortunately had to resign after becoming embroiled in a gambling controversy involving the consumption of a pie. Yes, you heard it right; a footballer has resigned after eating a pie.

For those not aware of the news story, Sutton United reserve goalkeeper, Wayne Shaw, was seen to eat a pie on the bench during Monday's FA Cup loss to Arsenal, after a bookmaker offered odds of 8-1 that he would do so on camera. Where this becomes ‘serious’ (in the eyes of some), is that Shaw was aware of the betting promotion before the start of the match and it is suspected fellow team mates may have placed bets. This series of events led to SunBets (who were behind the promotion and sponsored the match) paying out a five-figure sum.

The FA (Football Association), in a rather typical approach, have reacted by instantly launching an investigation into the potential misconduct of players involved in the incident. Whilst, to the cold letter of the law, the FA are required to investigate, one can’t help but echo the sentiments of Gary Lineker’s tweet ‘football has lost its sense of humour’.

However, Heads&Heads feels both the FA and Gary Lineker have missed a bigger issue. That being, should bookmakers be allowed to create and widely promote such novelty betting markets. Betting markets like this often have absolutely nothing to do with the game that is being played on the pitch. Further, these betting markets are advertised to such an aggressive extent that any follower of football (or in this specific case the FA Cup) would be hard pressed not to see the promotions on social media. The bookmakers are essentially trying to create ‘meme’ markets that convince punters to get in on the joke with their own cash. In doing so, they’ve created a warped ‘win, win’ scenario; the punters funnel their money into a market that has no hope of occurring, or in order for it to win, someone else must get in trouble (in this case Shaw) which takes the heat off the bookies for the ridiculous existence of these markets.

One, could maybe even go further and say that rather than forcing a non-league second string goalkeeper to retire, the FA should perhaps be focusing more on updating their betting rules.

At Heads&Heads, we do see the funny side of this whole matter, and we can’t help but feel rather sorry for the Sutton keeper, who has had to retire because of a betting market that never really should have existed. We, for one, hope he lands on his feet and that this does not ruin what was a really rather brilliant occasion for Sutton United.