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Last Updated: Thursday, 17 June, 2004, 20:16 GMT 21:16 UK
Saints duo given hefty bans
Martin Gleeson
Gleeson played in the match in question
St Helens duo Martin Gleeson and Sean Long have been banned for four and three months respectively for breaking rugby league betting rules.

The pair both admitted placing bets on Saints to lose their Super League match with Bradford on Easter Monday.

Gleeson, who played in the match, is suspended until 17 October, with Long banned until 17 September, both with immediate effect.

Both players were also fined 7,500 and ordered to pay costs of 2,205 each.

The suspensions, handed out by a Rugby Football League disciplinary panel on Thursday, are a major blow for St Helens.

The adverse publicity for the RFL and the sport when these bets were exposed has been immense
RFL statement
Coach Ian Millward will be deprived of two key players as Saints try to add the Super League crown to last month's Challenge Cup triumph.

Long would be free to return for the play-offs, although Gleeson's season is effectively over and he would miss the Grand Final on 16 October if Saints qualify.

Millward surprisingly left out 11 first-team players for the game, which the Bulls won 54-8.

Gleeson played and scored the opening try, but Long was left out due to injury.

Allegations of betting irregularities against the two players surfaced in the days following the game and a RFL investigation ruled both had a case to answer.

Sean Long in action for St Helens in the Challenge Cup final last month
Long missed the match with injury
The pair both won around 900 and pleaded guilty to charges of misconduct at a four-hour hearing.

The hearing learnt that Gleeson opened an account with an offshore bookmaker at 4.30pm the day before the match.

He later placed a bet of 1,000 to win 900 on Bradford beating Saints by more than eight points.

Long opened his account at 6.19pm on the same day and placed a bet of 600 and 20 minutes later staked a further 400.

Both players admitted guilt and apologised for their actions but claimed they were unaware of an RFL by-law prohibiting betting on matches in which their club was involved.

Long initially said he he had placed the bet for a friend but an investigation revealed that both players placed their winnings in their own bank accounts.

The rulings were made by a panel comprising Judge Peter Charlesworth, Deryck Fox and David Poulter.

A statement read: "We regard the case of Martin Gleeson as the more serious because he played in the game and was in a position to affect the outcome directly.

"The adverse publicity for the RFL and the sport when these bets were exposed has been immense.

"It brings into question the integrity of the game and the perception of the sport by the general public, let alone the supporters of the team who were entitled to expect their players to seek only the success of their side and not to obtain a personal profit by losing.

"There must be a significant penalty in order to fulfil our duty to preserve the good name of rugby league. We are also conscious that we are setting a precedent."




SEE ALSO
Saints pair consider appeal
17 Jun 04  |  Rugby League
Saints duo 'traumatised'
15 Jun 04  |  St Helens
Bradford 54-8 St Helens
12 Apr 04  |  Super League


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