STANLEY chairman Eric Whalley said Peter Cavanagh and Robbie Williams could face the sack - and it may be sooner rather than later.

The pair were this week charged by the Football Association of breaching betting rules.

The duo - along with ex-Reds Jay Harris and David Mannix and Bury player Andy Mangan - have been charged mainly based on evidence following the irregular betting on Stanley’s final game of last season against Bury which the Shakers won 2-0.

All five have until 23 April to respond to the charge by the FA.

However Stanley chairman Eric Whalley said: "I am seeing an employment solicitor about what we, as a club, can do now.

"I think it is disgusting that they have bet against the club. They have bet against the club that employs them and it is disrespectful to the fans.

"We can’t afford to lose fans, they are our bread and butter and it is a dual partnership and the players should be 100 per cent for the club.

"We have just had our best season ticket sales ever - we are up to 600 and hope to get to 800 before the season starts - and for players to do something like this could have a knock on effect. This is a real kick in the teeth for the club.

"We are looking at which way to go as a club. The players get a booklet on the laws and regulations of the FA and there is no excuse.

"They say no publicity is bad publicity but this is as we are trying to be positive - we don’t want to upset the fans and we don't want players playing for us who will bet against us winning.

"They will be backed by the Professional Football Association and they are a rich union and they will probably be representing the players.

"I did speak to Gordon Taylor when it happened and he told me to wait until the hearing was over but we want to see what we can do now."

The FA say Mannix, who is now at Chester, is alleged to have bet around £4,000 on a Bury win, Mangan (now at Forest Green) £3,000, Harris (now at Chester) £2,000, Williams £1,000 and Cavanagh a £5 accumulator.

Only Harris and Cavanagh played in the game where betting was suspended the night before when bookies alerted the FA with around £300,000 bet on a Bury victory - and with a lot of the bets in Merseyside - compared to the average of around £20,000 which is normally bet on a League Two game.

"Whether it is £5 or £5,000 it doesn’t matter - it is the same offence," continued the chairman. "I wasn't surprised when I saw that Robbie Williams had been involved as he was one of the players that was interviewed immediately. I was shocked at Peter Cavanagh though."

The FA has spent almost a year getting statements from the players, checking their mobile phone records and examining their bank details.

There will be no charges against the club as a whole but an FA spokesperson said: "It is very hard to say what sanctions the players might face if they were found guilty as there is no real precedent for this kind of case and there are never any set sanctions for any of our regulations.

"A Regulatory Commission would hear the case and have all options open to them in terms of potential sanctions ranging from warnings to fines and suspensions."

The FA statement said Cavanagh has also been charged with further breaches in relation to his betting on another Stanley match in which he played and on a number of other League Two matches.

H arris, meanwhile, has been charged in relation to betting on a game involving his new club Chester and another two League Two fixtures.

Accrington Stanley released a statement saying: "Accrington Stanley are aware that two of our players have been charged by the Football Association in connection with betting on football matches.

"They have until later this month to respond to the charges and we will await until the Football Association reach a final verdict before any action is taken by the club."

However at the time the news broke chief executive Rob Heys said: "Accrington Stanley as a club won’t be penalised because we have done nothing wrong but if anything is found that implicates individuals, they will be out, it is as simple as that."

Manager John Coleman had to change his team on the day as he was due to play fringe players in a game where both sides were safe from relegation.

After both the chairmen of Bury and Stanley were told about the irregular betting patterns the night before the match, he had to reorganise his side. The referee and match officials were also changed.

Bury, with Mangan now moved on, are not making a comment on the charges while Chester owner Stephen Vaughan said Harris and Mannix would both be considered for selection until the final verdict was reached.

Vaughan said: "There is no reason why these lads cannot be involved in Chester’s plans for this weekend. We’ll support them in any way we can, as we would do with any other member of the squad."


* FA rules prohibit participants from betting on the result or progress of any match or competition in which the participant is participating or has any direct or indirect influence.
* Ex-Stanley player Leighton McGivern, also registered with the Reds at the time and who was a late sub in the Bury match, was charged in March in relation to his failure to provide the FA with information requested during the course of the investigation. He has denied the charge. He is currently at Waterloo Docks in the Liverpool FA County Premier Division.