Lump on. That is what the Football Association would like you to believe Kieran Trippier told his friends shortly before his move to Atletico Madrid. It implies a ring, a sting and big, big rewards, hence his 10-week ban. It was nothing of the sort.
Transcripts reveal a more earthbound reality. The circle trying to win a few quid, the player trying to be a pal. One of Trippier's mates asks if he should 'lump on' — the first time the phrase is used — and gets the reply: 'Can do mate.' Later, pressed, Trippier adopts the same turn of phrase. 'Lump on if you want mate,' he advises. It is the tamest of endorsements.
Yet, as the friends swiftly discover, lumping on really isn't an option. Bookmakers don't want anyone lumping on a transfer bet because the only person who would enter such an unpredictable market with cash and confidence is in the know. Nobody is betting big money on a hunch.
Kieran Trippier was found guilty of breaching betting rules surrounding his move to SpainInsurance Loans Mortgage Attorney Credit Lawyer
So it's a win-win. If the move collapses the bookmakers keep the cash, and if it delivers they have the safety net of football's governing body to do their dirty work, if betting patterns indicate prior knowledge. So one of Trippier's friends had his stake 'massively restricted', and another got £300 on, but only at odds of 1-6, giving bookmakers a liability of £50 and a red flashing light.
Some of the other bets were laughable: £8.75 at 1-2, liability £4.37; £20 at 1-2, liability £10; £20 at 1-3, liability £6.66; £25 at 8-13, liability £15.38. The biggest bets were undermined by short odds: £100 at 5-6, liability £83.33; £120 at 5-6, liability £100. Another bet of £300 at 4-11 gave the winner £109.09, while £80.34 was wagered at 3-10, a return of £24.10.
The significant numbers here are not being made off book-makers. 'Levy just wants £500,000 more,' Trippier told his acolytes at one stage. According to FA evidence, the fee was finally agreed with Tottenham for £25m, which rather puts that £4.37 into perspective, or even the big hit, £109.09. As does the £482m Denise Coates was paid as chief executive of Bet365 across two years between 2017 and 2019.
And, yes, it's the principle that counts, not the profit. Trippier should not have been sharing privileged information with people he must have reasonably assumed were using it for gambling purposes.
Yet, why, exactly? This isn't a match. He isn't affecting the outcome and therefore the integrity of a competition. Bookmakers have chosen to make a market on his life, and in doing so have placed him in jeopardy.
Who makes significant career decisions without discussing it with family or friends, without taking counsel, or offering progress reports? Trippier did not ask for this book to be opened, and receives no revenue from it. Maybe that is what should change.
In one WhatsApp exchange, Trippier told a friend to 'lump on if you want mate'
In another exchange, Trippier told a friend the deal to move to Atletico Madrid was nearly doneInsurance Loans Mortgage Attorney Credit Lawyer
The only way these bans and fines would be fair is if book-makers had to seek permission from the individuals involved, who would receive a cut of the revenue as part of their image rights. Then, if a player was found to be manipulating the market, or offering the inside track, it would be fraud and he could be penalised accordingly.
This is just the FA acting as bookies' muscle. If they didn't pursue cases against players such as Trippier and Daniel Sturridge, the gambling houses would soon tire of losing and the problem would go away. It is the FA that facilitates this by acting as enforcer — as if the grubby charade is any of their business.
This is now being tested. Atletico Madrid have challenged the ban which is suspended, pending appeal. The club will go to FIFA and then the Court of Arbitration for Sport if unsuccessful.
Their case is simple. They bought a player. They had nothing to do with a betting scandal that took place when he was still under contract to Spurs, or a punishment handed down from a different country. Had Trippier served it as administered, he would have missed 13 Atletico matches including the home Champions League fixture with Chelsea. As he would not even be allowed inside the training ground before March 1 — or to attend a game — his place in the Madrid derby scheduled for March 7 would have been in jeopardy, too.
Diego Simeone's Atletico Madrid brought Trippier from Tottenham in a £25million deal
And this is a huge season for Atletico. They top the table with a two-point lead and games in hand on Spain's big two. They could win LaLiga for only the second time since 1996 — and Trippier is their first-choice right back.
Certainly, it did not escape Atletico's attention that his ban did not impinge on any international fixtures, leaving the FA and English football unscathed. Atletico protested and FIFA listened. It could mean, if the punishment is delayed but upheld, that Trippier misses the European Championship. That leaked this week as if the FA were trying to put the frighteners on.
Yet, so what? It's their trumped-up ban. Given the friend-of-the-right-back's-cousin's-best-mate's-cleaning-lady source of transfer gossip is such a familiar trope, how preposterous is it that the FA make passing information a crime? Equally, why are they prioritising protecting the sanctity of an artificial betting market created to separate mugs from their money?
Unless some mug knows somebody, of course. Then, they'll refuse to pay, turn the source over to the beaks, and the FA will prosecute as if they've cracked the crime of the century. Strange, isn't it, that they're so fascinated by £4.37 — but rarely with the part where the real money gets made?
HOW COME CAVANI DIDN'T KNOW ABOUT RACIST TERM?
The most incredible aspect of Edinson Cavani's ban for using racist language is that in close on 13 years based in leagues across Italy, France and England, nobody has ever thought to explain cultural differences to the Uruguayan striker.
There was shock that Manchester United did not provide media training to a man with eight million Instagram followers, yet what of Palermo, Napoli and Paris Saint-Germain? Cavani spent six years in Italy, seven in France, and nobody ever told him the 'negrito' thing wasn't cool? Did they think it was cool too maybe? Did they think it didn't matter?