What's going on with Athlone Town?

Will O'Callaghan spoke to Newstalk Breakfast about a proposed investigation into alleged betting breaches

BY Daniel Kelly 13:08 Thursday 4 May 2017, 13:08 4 May 2017

General view of Lissywollen, Athlone Town Stadium Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/James Crombie

Athlone Town remains clouded in uncertainty after the FAI launched an investigation into the club. 

On Wednesday afternoon, the FAI revealed that the Co. Westmeath team was under investigation "regarding potential breaches of FAI rules". The game in question was Athlone Town's 3-1 defeat to local rivals Longford Town last weekend.

UEFA notified the FAI on the irregularities in recent days, the Association confirmed. "UEFA presented analysis which demonstrated the irregular betting patterns on international markets. The FAI has opened an investigation on the matter and a copy of UEFA's report has been submitted to An Garda Siochana", the statement continued.

In a statement released by the club, they stated that "the club absolutely abhors match fixing and would never knowingly get involved in such unacceptable activity."

"The club will be fully co-operating with those conducting the investigation, and look forward to meeting with FAI officials next week. Should any of the allegations be upheld the club will take action against any wrongdoers."

Will O'Callaghan, the Sports Editor of local radio station Midlands 103 spoke to Newstalk Breakfast on Wednesday morning to discuss the increasingly worrying situation at the club.

"I know Athlone Town supporters have had suspicions, earlier on in the season. The Athlone Town FC Fans group have flagged up many different games where they have felt there was the suspicion of soft goals going in at various times and sendings off which they had found suspicious, particularly going back to Athlone's game with UCD last month. I get the feeling that this Longford game was the tip of the iceberg.

The FAI also revealed they have been monitoring the club since before the start of the 2017 season, after receiving information from UEFA.

"Some of the players that have come in [to play for Athlone] would have previously played for Atletico Clube de Portugal, who are a club in the second division of the Portuguese League", O'Callaghan told Newstalk Breakfast. "In 2014, they were investigated for manipulation, corruption and match-fixing charges."

"Eric Mao, or Eric Xiaodong who is a Hong Kong businessman has a 70% stake in that club". O'Callaghan revealed there is a suspicion that Mr. Mao is involved with Athlone Town.

"[Mao] was also involved in a club in Latvia. Marc Formaux, who is the current first-team director at Athlone Town, has links to that club as well. The feeling is that Eric Mao is likely the investor."

The club have not been found guilty of any charges, and an investigation is underway at both the FAI and the Midlands club. The team play Cobh Ramblers on Friday night, but the investigation will not begin until next Monday. 

"One of the potential things that could happen here if it's proven Athlone Town are involved in match-fixing is they could well be thrown out of the First Division this season and have their results expunged", O'Callaghan concluded.

The team are currently second-bottom on the First Division, with ten points from their opening ten games. 

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