The Football Association is to appeal against the six-week suspension and £75,000 fine handed to Daniel Sturridge for breaching its betting rules. It believes the former Liverpool striker deserves at least a six-month ban having been found guilty by a regulatory commission of giving his brother inside information on a possible move to Sevilla.
Sturridge’s six-week suspension from all domestic matches came into effect on Wednesday. The former England international is without a club following his release by Liverpool and, with the final four weeks of the ban suspended, will be free to resume his career from 31 July. He will therefore not miss any competitive football unless he breaches betting rules again.
The FA charged the striker with misconduct in November 2018 and expected a more severe punishment for a guilty verdict. The authority has announced it will appeal against the independent body’s findings and has informed Sturridge’s legal team of its intentions. A date for the appeal has not been set.
It confirmed in a statement: “The FA respectfully disagrees with the regulatory commission’s findings and will be appealing against the charges which were dismissed and the sanction which was imposed.” In the published findings of the hearing – some of which are redacted – the FA states: “A sanction of any shorter duration than six months would wholly fail to reflect the gravity of the case.”
Sturridge was cleared of nine of the 11 charges he faced relating to his transfer from Anfield in January 2018. On two accounts, however, he was found to have told his brother, Leon, to bet on a possible move to Sevilla. The club were ultimately unable to agree the terms of a loan deal with Liverpool and Sturridge joined West Bromwich Albion until the end of the 2017-18 season.
Leon Sturridge did not put on the Sevilla bet. Another relative, Anthon Walters, lost £10,000 betting that Sturridge would join Internazionale who, along with Newcastle, were also interested in signing the forward. When Inter’s interest emerged Sturridge’s uncle and agent, Dean, messaged him to say: “Fuck it stay out of squad.” Sturridge responded: “Cool with me.” Liverpool beat Manchester City 4-3 at Anfield two days after the exchange without Sturridge in the squad.
The total sum wagered by people directly or indirectly connected to Sturridge was £13,755.82, returning £10,762.56. There were attempts to place a further £20,560 worth of bets on his potential transfers in January 2018 but these were refused by betting companies. If accepted, and successful, they would have returned an extra £317,006.
Sturridge, who denied all the charges, said it was “extremely disappointing” to learn of the FA’s appeal and that he would defend his position. He described the past 15 months as “very tough” and added: “I am pleased that nine of the 11 charges were dismissed and that the panel found me to be an honest and credible witness, and that my actions on one particularly difficult day were out of character.” The FA’s findings do describe Sturridge as an “impressive and credible witness” but also claim he gave a misleading account when first interviewed about his brother’s betting and his knowledge of it.
The FA’s statement said: “Mr Sturridge faced 11 charges. Nine of those charges (1a, 1b, 2, 5, 6a, 6b and 7-9) concerned alleged breaches of the inside information rule, in that, it was said, Mr Sturridge had provided inside information to friends and family about his possible transfer moves in January 2018, which information had then been used for, or in relation to, betting. Those charges were dismissed by the regulatory commission.
“The regulatory commission found proved charges 3 and 4, which alleged that, in that same transfer window, Mr Sturridge had instructed his brother, Leon, to bet on a possible move by him (Daniel) to Sevilla FC. In issuing that instruction, the regulatory commission found that, as a matter of fact, Mr Sturridge had provided his brother with inside information for that purpose.”
Sturridge has been training this summer in Los Angeles, where he has a home and a dog, Lucci. The former Chelsea and Manchester City striker has interest from clubs in the United States, China, several European teams and Premier League suitors including Aston Villa.