A host of long-standing Scottish FA betting charges against north footballers have now been settled.
Notices of complaint were served to Matthew Cooper, Darryl McHardy, Ashley Ballam, Aidan Sopel, Thomas McHale, Shane Sutherland, Conor O’Keefe and Rabin Omar by the governing body in January 2022.
However, the hearings had been postponed and it is only now that the SFA have indicated resolutions have been reached.
Elgin City captain Cooper was alleged to have breached SFA disciplinary Rule 31 in seasons 2012-13, 2013-14, 2014-15, 2015-16, 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19.
The rule states: “No club, official, team official or other member of team staff, player, match official or other person under the jurisdiction of the Scottish FA shall gamble in any way on a football match.”
Cooper’s hearing took place at the end of August and he was handed an eight-game suspension, five matches of which were immediate and have been served.
The remaining three are suspended until the end of this season and will only be applied if there’s a further breach.
McHardy was also charged with breaching Rule 31 during seasons 2014-15, 2015-16, 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19, when he was an Elgin player.
The defender, who signed for Buckie Thistle in the summer, received a three-match ban at a hearing earlier this month which is suspended in full until the end of season 2024-25 and is only applicable if there is a further breach.
Ballam was charged with betting during seasons 2018-19 and 2019-20, a period where he was an Elgin player and had loan spells at Rothes and Huntly.
The defender, who is now with Cumbernauld Colts in the Lowland League, had his hearing at the end of August and was handed a three-game ban, which is suspended in full until the end of the season and will also only be applied if there is a further breach.
Sopel was cited for a breach of Rule 31 during the 2019-20 season when he was an Elgin player.
The winger, who signed for Fraserburgh in the summer, was given an an eight-match suspension, four of which were immediate and have been served following his hearing at the end of August.
The remaining four games are suspended until the end of the season and will only be applied if there is another breach.
No more action expected
Meanwhile, the SFA has indicated that no further action is expected to be taken against McHale, Sutherland, O’Keefe and Omar.
Elgin goalkeeper McHale had been charged with a breach of Rule 31 during season 2018-19.
Attacker Sutherland, who is currently a free agent, was alleged to have broken the same rule during seasons 2011-12, 2012-13, 2013-14, 2014-15, 2015-16, 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19 when he played for Inverness Caledonian Thistle, Elgin City and Peterhead.
Winger O’Keefe, who now plays for Peterhead, was charged with a breach in 2014 when he was a youth player at Celtic.
Midfielder Omar, who now plays for Broomhill in the Lowland League, was alleged to have placed bets on football during seasons 2016-17 – when he was at Annan Athletic – and 2018-19 during his time with Elgin.