Wally Downes admits 'stupid mistake' after betting charge cost him AFC Wimbledon job
Last Updated: 13/11/19 10:49am
Former AFC Wimbledon manager Wally Downes says he made a "stupid mistake" after a breach of FA betting rules cost him his job.
Downes left the League One side by mutual consent last month, two days after the FA fined him £3,000 and banned him from football for four weeks.
He admitted placing eight bets on matches while he was working in football between 2013 and 2019, and acknowledged that he knew it was against FA rules.
Downes placed five bets during the 2013/14 season - three of which involved QPR, where he was working at the time - and three this season while at AFC Wimbledon.
The bets in the 2013/14 season ranged between £50 and £240 - none of them won - while his wagers this season totalled £35.71, with his one win earning him £39.08.
Speaking exclusively to Sky Sports News, Downes sought to explain his actions, saying: "After I left West Ham in 2013, I went to Los Angeles.
"Vinnie (Jones) called me over and I stayed with him for six months. We played golf and on a Saturday we had a football interest bet where we put the money in together.
"When I came back I was still in the habit of doing it - it was a fun bet to have. When I went to QPR - I was a QPR supporter - I added them to the sort of bets I was having.
"After about a month I self-corrected and realised what I had done, stopped and didn't have a bet for five years."
That five-year gap was broken when he placed three bets in July of this year, and Downes - who the FA agreed was a man of "integrity and honesty" at his hearing - says he now has to live with the consequences of his actions.
He played for Wimbledon for nine years and helped save AFC Wimbledon from relegation as manager last season, but accepts he has tarnished his link with the club.
"The fans that I've spoken to and the ones that I've kept in touch with have been very supportive because I go back a long way with there," he said.
"But the fact that I've made this stupid mistake has put us in a situation where I can't be a part of the club that I grew up with and made me the sort of person I am.
"I can't get away from that; I've got to own that and make sure that mistake will never happen again.
"But the fans have been terrific with me and I hope that I left them with some good memories."
Looking forward, Downes wants to get back into the game and hopes his mistakes will not prevent adding more clubs to a strong CV that includes Crystal Palace, Southampton and West Ham.
"Every club that I've coached at has had success, whether it's been winning a cup, winning a title, getting promoted," he said.
"It's what I do, it's what I'm most successful at, it's what I enjoy. Going forward, certainly I'll be looking to get back in as soon as I can."