Thomas Frank said the uncertainty that hung over Ivan Toney and Brentford due to the striker’s FA charge of breaking gambling rules was allowed to run on for too long.
Toney was charged with 262 betting offences in November and December last year, with the 27-year-old admitting to 232 of them in February, but it took until Wednesday for an eight-month ban from football to be handed down.
The England cap has scored 20 of his team’s 54 Premier League goals this season as Brentford have consolidated in the top half during their second top-flight campaign, but will now not be available to play for the Bees until January 2024.
— Brentford FC (@BrentfordFC) May 17, 2023
Frank, whose side begin life without their top scorer away to Tottenham on Saturday lunchtime, feels the processing of Toney’s case could have been handled more quickly.
“Yes (it took too long),” said Frank. “I don’t know how you can do it shorter, I don’t know the processes, how you get through that and how you do it shorter. But as a general principal, uncertainty for everyone in the world is the worst thing.
“If you know, now you go to whatever court, or you get the job or you don’t get the job. That’s the worst thing. I don’t know if it could be done shorter.”
Brentford are yet to receive a full report from the Football Association detailing its verdict, whilst the club said it is waiting for clarification on the finer points of the ban including what presence if any Toney can have at the Bees’ training ground.
The ban extends to training with his team-mates up until September.
Despite the lengthy suspension Frank backed the striker, who broke into Gareth Southgate’s England squad earlier in the season, to return to his best once the punishment has been served.
“I’m convinced that he will come back stronger. All the times he had setbacks or someone didn’t believe in him in his career, he’s overcome that and every single time showed the world that he is a good footballer and he can play to a high level.
“It’s impressive with the career he’s had and the pathway he’s been taking that he’s now scored 20 goals in the Premier League and got his full debut in the England team. I’m convinced with his mentality that he will come back stronger. We will do everything we can to support him to come back.”
The suspension has again raised questions about football’s relationship with the gambling industry, particularly after the Premier League announced in April its intention to ban betting firms from advertising on the fronts of clubs’ shirts.
Brentford are one of eight top-flight clubs currently sponsored by betting companies, and Frank said that in light of Toney’s suspension it poses a problem that football authorities must solve.
“There is an issue that we need to address,” he said. “Where is the perfect balance? Can football just say no, to not have any relationship with any betting companies? I don’t know, that’s not for me to answer.
“I’m trying to win a football match tomorrow. But there is an issue somewhere that we need to address, no doubt about that.”
On Toney’s future at the club, he added: “(Contract discussions) are an ongoing talk we have with all our players, internally first then with key players when they hit that mark around two years left. Do we let the contract run out or do we want to extend it?
“Probably Ivan is in the bracket of players that we would like to extend and keep of course. He’s a top player for us. That’s something we need to consider.”
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