Former Tranmere Rovers midfielder Steve Jennings arrested over red card betting probe

FORMER Tranmere Rovers midfielder Steve Jennings was arrested today in connection with a betting probe following his sending off in a Scottish Premier League match.

The Kirkby-born 26-year-old, who spent seven seasons at Prenton Park after coming through the youth system, was picked up by Merseyside police on behalf of the Gambling Commission at his home in Glasgow.

He was one of nine people - alongside eight others from Merseyside – set to be questioned after warrants were carried out at 10 address in Merseyside and Glasgow early this morning.

Jennings has been under investigation since December whe playing for Motherwell he received his marching orders in a 2-1 home defeat to Hearts.

After being booked for a foul early on in the game at Fir Park Jennings was shown a straight red card for putting his hand on referee Stevie O’Reilly and arguing when a penalty appeal was turned down in the 83rd minute of the SPL clash.

Jennings is alleged to have asked O’Reilly when he was going to stop “cheating” Motherwell.

But questions were raised by bookies when it emerged that several bets were made on a player being sent off including a £500 punt placed through a new account opened in Liverpool at 10/1 odds.

Two members of the Association of British Bookmakers, including online betting company Blue Square, reported concerns the day after the match.

Jennings, who made close to 180 appearances for Tranmere between 2003 and 2009, told the ECHO at the time he was in “shock” over the probe.

Stewart Regan, Scottish FA chief executive, today said: “The Scottish FA has received notification from the Gambling Commission that the Motherwell FC player, Steve Jennings, was arrested at his home today by Merseyside Police.

“This follows extensive enquiries in relation to alleged betting irregularities at a Scottish Premier League match between Motherwell and Hearts on December 14, 2010.

“While the investigation involves several other individuals outside Scotland it is important to stress that the evidence gathered throughout this thorough period of investigation has involved only one Scottish match.

“Motherwell FC are aware of the situation and will issue a response in due course. The Scottish FA will make no further comment at this stage.”

A Merseyside police spokeswoman said: “The arrests are the culmination of a joint operation with the Gambling Commission and the nine who have been arrested for conspiracy to defraud are being interviewed by detectives.

“Those arrested are a 29-year-old from Bootle, a 48-year-old from West Derby, a 54-year-old from Norris Green, a 26-year-old from Croxteth, a 22-year-old from Kirkdale, a 31-year-old from Litherland, a 68-year-old from Fazakerley, a 36-year-old from Kirkby and a 26-year-old from Glasgow.”