INSTITUTE midfielder, Ronan Doherty is understood to be the player at the centre of an Irish Football Association investigation into an alleged breach of the association's strict gambling rules.
The club issued a statement this week confirming the authenticity of a screenshot that circulated on social media which showed the player asking a friend to place a bet on Ballymena United to beat Institute on Saturday, February 9th - a match 'Stute lost 2-1.
Under strict IFA rules a player cannot bet on any team - including his own - in any tournament or league in which that player’s team competes.
Club chairman, Bill Anderson said he had been approached by the player and that the club was investigating while an IFA spokesperson confirmed they would be liaising with Institute Football Club to 'ascertain if there has been a breach of the Irish FA's betting rules.'
“The Irish FA’s Integrity Officer, in partnership with UEFA and the gambling industry, monitors activity on matches where betting opportunities are offered," the IFA statement read. “No suspicious betting activity was flagged in respect of this match, however in light of the club’s statement we will now liaise with Institute and other key stakeholders to ascertain if there has been a breach of the Irish FA’s betting rules.”
While 'Stute Chairman, Mr Anderson refused to name the player in question, it's understood talented midfielder, Doherty has since been suspended and the club has pledged to work with both Northern Ireland Football League and the IFA to determine what further action should be taken.
“I can confirm that one of our players contacted me today (Monday) to admit responsibility,” confirmed Mr Anderson. “The young lad was pretty cut up about it. He acknowledged that he had been very stupid but stressed that he didn’t want it to reflect badly on the club or his team mates.”
The player apparently reaffirmed his commitment to the club and has apologised to the Chairman and the 'Stute supporters. He is reported to have said: "I know it was stupid but I didn't go out to lose that game, in fact I actually got man of the match that day.
"I have learned a hard lesson and I'm sorry to have created this problem for the club and the other players. I will accept whatever punishment comes my way and then do my utmost to restore the club's faith in me,"
Doherty, who joined 'Stute this summer from Ulster Senior League side Cockhill Celtic, has a been revelation this season.
The 23-year-old's has scored two goals this season and his all round game has earned him rave reviews from a host of Danske Bank Premiership manager's, with Dungannon Swifts' boss Kris Lindsay stating he was the 'best player on the pitch, by a country mile', during Saturday's clash at the Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium.
In fact his first league goal of the season at Ards a few weeks ago will be a leading contender of February's Goal of the month.