Harry Toffolo’s deteriorating mental health and belief his football career was in decline was “very substantial mitigation” for him breaching FA betting rules, according to an independent regulatory commission.
The Nottingham Forest defender was given a suspended five-month ban after admitting 375 breaches of betting rules, having placed 40 historical bets involving his own team – 15 of those against his own team.
There were also two spot bets placed by the player on events which involved himself, occurring between January 2014 and March 2017.
The report’s written reasons, published on Friday, also revealed Toffolo began betting after suffering the “twin disappointments” of being told he did not feature in then-manager Chris Hughton’s plans at Norwich City, nor would he be permitted to leave the club on loan.
During such time, the report states Toffolo struggled with his mental health and became “addicted to gambling.
At the time, Toffolo was contracted to Norwich, and played on loan for Swindon, Rotherham, Peterborough and Scunthorpe.
The report also said Toffolo used betting “partly to alleviate his low mood”, but principally to “fit in” with team-mates, who were said to be “gambling regularly and successfully”.
The commission accepted there “appears to have been a link” between the state of Toffolo’s mental health and his gambling and noted when he joined Scunthorpe in August 2016 he “thrived far better”, with his family having also made the move.
The frequency of his gambling decreased considerably and eventually stopped altogether.
On the basis of the evidence, the commission concluded the bets placed by Toffolo during the relevant periods “were the result, at least in large part, of the significant mental health challenges” he endured over those periods.
The 28-year-old’s ban is suspended until the end of 2024-25, allowing Forest to name the full-back in their revised 25-man Premier League squad.
Forest have declined to comment on the sanctions imposed on Toffolo.
Manager Steve Cooper was among those to provide evidence to the commission, describing the defender as a “true professional” and family man who has a positive impact on the dressing room and in the wider community.