Graham Smyth: Solution to betting problem of bored, anxious, lonely Leeds United teen is not more loneliness

Jordan Stevens will spend six weeks away from Leeds United (Pic: Getty)
Jordan Stevens will spend six weeks away from Leeds United (Pic: Getty)
0
Have your say

If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem.

Jordan Stevens' problem is decision making, on the face of it.

The decision to bet money on football matches - a little over £500 spread over 59 bets - has quite rightly landed him in hot water with the game's authorities.

They have, as they should, investigated his betting and elected to punish him.

But they have not solved his problem.

READ: Leeds United come out strongly against 'excessive' punishment for midfielder

Leaving his Gloucester home at 17 and moving the guts of 200 miles north to Leeds is where the root of his problem lies.

An independent regulatory commission considering an FA charge of a betting rule breach by the teenager heard that he was bored. He was anxious. He was homesick. He was finding it hard to fit in. He then, I think we can all agree, made a silly decision.

They heard all of that and decided the solution to his problem was more boredom and, presumably, more anxiety.

Stevens has been banned from football for six weeks. That sounds reasonable, he knowingly broke rules after all.

He has also been banned from training. He has been banned from interacting with club staff.

Sorry to hear about the loneliness that undoubtedly played a part in your poor decision making, have six weeks away from your employers, mentors and team-mates to think about.

Taking away the honour, or more pertinently in this case the possibility, of representing Leeds United in competitive fixtures is a deterrent.

Taking away the support of his club, a club that has expressly stated they want to help educate a young man who lost his way, is draconian. It makes little sense.

Why not stipulate that Stevens must spend six weeks under the wing of Alan Scorfield at the Leeds United Foundation, giving his time and effort to help the people of a city where the rate of problem gambling is twice the national average?

Why not have him raising awareness of Leeds' new NHS Northern Gambling Clinic?

Why not send him on an educational course? Why not book him a series of appointments with current or former professionals recovering from gambling addiction? Why not open his eyes instead of shutting him away from the footballing world?

And all of this is before we even get to the fact that the problematic bets were placed by a player of 32Red sponsored Leeds United, who contest the Sky Bet Championship.

Football isn't so much in bed with gambling, it's trapped in a mutually dependent long-term relationship.

The two are inextricably linked.

In July the FA dished out eight charges over betting misconduct.

Players, ex players, coaches, directors and even media officers have had cases to answer over bets made on football.

Football has a problem, what is the FA's solution?