Former Leeds United star’s betting addiction began with ‘big gambling culture’ at Elland Road

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The former Tottenham Hotspur and Crystal Palace star explained how he fell into a gambling addiction while playing at Leeds United.

Andros Townsend has opened up about falling victim to a 'big gambling culture' that surrounded football while playing for Leeds United in 2012.

The winger was known to have had a tough time while at Elland Road with the star's agent citing unhappiness as a reason for leaving just a month after signing with the club in a move which manager Neil Warnock labelled as 'good riddance'.

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The 31-year-old had spoken about his gambling addiction and FA ban before but has given new detail in an interview with talkSPORT following the high-profile case of Brentford striker Ivan Toney.

Toney was banned from football for eight months in May after admitting 232 breaches of FA betting rules between 2017 and 2021. Ten years prior, in 2013, Townsend was fined and banned for four months by the FA for 76 counts of illegal bets.

The forward had previously spoken with candour about losing £46,000 'lying in bed on a Wednesday night in Blackpool' while on loan at Birmingham City just months after leaving Leeds United.

Speaking to talkSPORT, Townsend admitted that it was while in Yorkshire that he first fell to addiction. He said: "It was just as I was coming through, I was out on loan a bit, in hotels on my own, I was single at the time.

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"I think I was at Leeds, there was a big gambling culture. I knew I had an addictive personality and needed to avoid gambling and drinking. I just got sucked in and it just spiralled over the course of a year, two years.

"All I was doing was betting on an app. It didn't feel like real money, it felt like games and I got charged with 76 counts of illegal bets - not on my own team, but teams in my division which was illegal at the time."

Andros Townsend made just seven appearences for Leeds United (Image: Getty Images)Andros Townsend made just seven appearences for Leeds United (Image: Getty Images)
Andros Townsend made just seven appearences for Leeds United (Image: Getty Images) | Getty Images

Townsend admitted that he thought his career would be over as the FA began to take action but was relieved when the football body 'didn't throw the book' and 'went down the rehabilitation route.

The star, who was released from Everton this summer following a two-year stint, questioned why the FA had been so public in their investigation into Ivan Toney having been afforded protection from the public himself in 2013.

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Townsend said: "I had to go to the FA and put my case to a panel and nothing was released, nobody knew anything and they said they wanted to help me and didn't want to turn public opinion against me before they made their decision.

"At the same time, it was Luis Suarez's racism case against Patrice Evra and lots of stuff was getting leaked and they did that because they wanted public opinion against Luis Suarez before they made their decision.

"It confuses me why stuff was getting leaked in Ivan Toney's case which is similar to mine.

"It's a player who clearly had an issue, why are you not helping this guy? Why are you throwing him to the wolves? Why are you turning public opinion against him before we've even heard the full story? For me, it doesn't sit well."

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