Barton charged for repeatedly betting that matches would be interrupted by two men in horse costume
Barton, formerly of Manchester City, QPR and the Sorbonne, is accused of breaching SFA rules by wagering 44 times between July and September this year that two people dressed as a single horse would successfully evade pitchside security at football matches all over the UK.
The 33-year-old midfielder stood to win a substantial sum of money had two or more individuals – one acting as the horse’s back legs, and the other as its front legs and head – entered the pitch and charged around wildly for several minutes, causing play to be suspended while stewards attempted to bring the costumed intruders under control.
He’d come in here every Saturday morning looking confident, and then he’d come in again on Wednesday looking sad but determined and double his stake, sometimes adding a detail like the colour of the horse
Barton is also understood to have bet ‘each way’ that the back and front halves of the horse would separate, and that each half would continue to be chased around the pitch by security personnel, their mazy running causing the hapless stewards to run into one another at the very moment they seemed poised to bring them down.
Then, according to the fine print of Barton’s bet, the two halves would reunite before charging down the tunnel together, ditching the costume and escaping into the sunset on a moped while the furious chief steward shook a fist impotently at their exhaust fumes.
A spokesman for Glaswegian bookmakers Knack of the Bet said: “A match being suspended because of two men in a pantomime horse costume is not a bet we see very often, to be honest, but Mr Barton seemed incredibly confident it would happen just as he described, right down to the make of the moped and its cylindrical capacity.
“He’d come in here every Saturday morning looking confident, and then he’d come in again on Wednesday looking sad but determined and double his stake, sometimes adding a detail like the colour of the horse or the girth of the chief steward.
“He was absolutely sure that sooner or later, a football match somewhere would be interrupted by two men, or women, pretending to be a disruptive horse, and he was prepared to put his career on the line for it.”
BACK OF THE NET
An SFA spokesman said: “Gambling on men in horse costumes interrupting football matches is in clear contravention of Disciplinary Rule 31a, which specifies that players may only bet on matches being interrupted by several children standing on one another’s shoulders pretending to be a tall man in an overcoat.
“This has happened three times so far this season, which is about average for this time of year, but we acknowledge that this is a continuing problem in Scottish football and we are taking steps to stamp it out.”
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