Bradley Wood: Ex-Lincoln City player banned for six years for match-fixing offences
Defender Bradley Wood has been banned for six years after twice intentionally getting booked during Lincoln City's FA Cup run last season.
Wood, 26, was found guilty by a Football Association tribunal of two match-fixing offences after telling friends he would try to get booked in the victories over Ipswich and Burnley.
The FA said seven people, including two close friends, bet on him to be booked.
The potential winnings totalled around £10,000 but not all were paid.
Wood, who now plays for Alfreton Town, contested both charges but admitted 23 other betting offences.
The FA Independent Regulatory Commission judgement said the fact that none of the seven people had previously bet on bookings, plus the size of the bets, made them stand out.
Wood was given a five-year ban for the match-fixing offences and a further year after admitting 22 charges of betting on the outcome of matches and one charge of passing on information.
Fined £3,725 and ordered to pay costs, he was suspended until 8 March, 2024.
Lincoln City, who reached the FA Cup quarter-finals last season after wins over Ipswich and Burnley, said they were informed about the investigation in April 2017.
Wood was suspended for the final two weeks of his contract and released in May.
'Exceptional' amounts and missing messages
The judgement said two of the seven people who placed bets, Matthew Hardwicke and Scott Worrad, are friends of Wood, while others are close to Worrad.
Phone records show Wood was in "extensive contact" with them before each game.
- He texted Worrad 42 times before the Ipswich match
- He texted brother-in-law Sidney Dick 52 times on the morning of the Burnley game
- One of Dicks' friends, William Sinclair, placed a bet on Wood to get booked
The content of the messages is not known because Hardwicke refused to allow his phone to be inspected, while Worrad insisted his had been wiped and contained no relevant information.
Four of those betting on Wood to be booked - Worrad, Scott Hardy, James Frost and Zoey Taylor - were using their accounts for the first time, while all seven placed bets much larger than at any time before or after.
The FA said the amounts staked were "truly exceptional", with one betting firm reporting they had never seen a four-figure amount staked on a player to be booked.
Wood said his associates knew the "type of player that he was and recognised an opportunity to place strategic bets".
The panel said it had "no doubt the betting evidence demonstrates a betting syndicate because the nature, size and timing of the bets can only demonstrate coordinated action".
It added: "The possibility of the bettors having acquired the necessary information is slight."
Although both charges come under match-fixing offences, the panel said it did not believe the outcome of either match had been affected by Wood's behaviour.
Taking this into account, together with the lack of evidence that Wood "personally benefited financially" and the "relative modesty" of the sums, the panel decided on a five-year rather than lifetime ban.
Wood argued he was betting on behalf of his father, who was in hospital, but on a betting account in Wood's name because his father did not have a bank card.
The FA said Wood would still know he was acting in breach of betting rules even if that was the case.
What happened in the matches?
Lincoln, who are currently in League Two, last season became the first non-league side for 103 years to reach the FA Cup quarter-finals thanks to wins over Ipswich, Brighton and Burnley.
In the 1-0 third-round replay win over Ipswich on 17 January, 2017, Wood was booked in the 90th minute for deliberately fouling Tom Lawrence to stop a counter-attack.
The resulting free-kick was headed clear to Lincoln's Adam Marriott, who broke forward and set up Nathan Arnold for the winner.
"That yellow card has been a long time coming for Wood. He's put in some heavy challenges, some good but more bad," said BBC Sport summariser Jermaine Jenas at the time.
Wood was booked in the 70th minute of the 1-0 fifth-round win over Burnley on 18 February, 2017 for his part in an altercation that also involved team-mate Terry Hawkridge and Burnley's Joey Barton.
The FA said Wood "intentionally placed himself in positions to get booked on a number of occasions in both matches which demonstrate attempts by him to receive a card".
Wood denied that, arguing that he would not have left it until the end of the Ipswich match if he was seeking a yellow card and that he did not instigate the confrontation against Burnley.
The judgement said the fact the foul against Ipswich was in the last minute "militates against it being part of a betting conspiracy".
However, it said that Wood chose to involve himself in the altercation with Burnley players in front of the referee and that he could have had "little doubt that such conduct would lead to a caution".
Overall, the panel found Wood's conduct on the field to be "equivocal", neither demonstrating his guilt nor his innocence.
However, both charges were proven because of "compelling" betting evidence and Wood's association with those placing the bets.