Jamaica Would Not Be A Gamble For Ivan Toney
Brentford striker’s potential place with England for Qatar 2022 under investigation should alert JFF for a call-up
Ivan Toney could well become a Reggae Boy after all. The Northampton-born hot-shot, who plies his trade in the English Premier League (EPL) with Brentford, is assisting the English FA with their enquiries over historic match betting.
Unless the allegations have been fully investigated with a positive outcome for the 26-year-old, then Toney’s place in the England squad for the forthcoming Qatar 2022 winter tournament lies in jeopardy.Toney has yet to make his senior debut for England, and may be forced to reconsider an approach from the Jamaican Football Federation (JFF) should he fail to be named in Gareth Southgate’s England squad this week for the FIFA World Cup finals.
He was in the England squad for September’s Nations League ties against Germany and Italy, but simply warmed the bench. Having slotted home eight EPL goals this term with aplomb, on top of scoring a dozen last season, Southgate gave Toney the nod he deserved.
However, with this latest controversial development then Southgate’s hands may be tied pending the outcome and Toney may wish to represent Jamaica.
The FA has declined to comment on the reports in Sunday newspapers about Toney. Brentford issued a statement on their website that read: “We note the story concerning Ivan Toney and the FA investigation. The club will not be commenting.”
Toney was quick on the ball, and took to social media to tweet: “I’m aware of a story about me in a national newspaper today. I’ve been assisting the FA with their enquiries and will not be making any comment until such an investigation has reached its conclusion.
“I am a proud Englishman and it has always been my childhood dream to play for my country at a World Cup finals.”
Should the allegation, which relates to a period before he joined Brentford, be warranted then Toney will be in deep water and faces an FA ban. Under FA rules, players operating at Premier League, English Football League and National League levels are banned from betting on football.
This includes betting on any other football-related matter such as the transfer of players, employment of managers or team selection.
Toney kicked off his career with Northampton Town in 2012, where he became their youngest ever player to make his first team debut. He was snapped up by Newcastle United three years later but was twice loaned out to Barnsley, where he won the League One play-offs and lifted the Football League Trophy.
The following two seasons he was also sent out on loan – representing Scunthorpe United, Shrewsbury Town and Wigan Athletic – before joining Peterborough United for the 2018-19 campaign.
The striker became their shining star for the 2019-20 season, winning the League Player of the Season accolade and finishing as the leading scorer in the division.
Ambitious Brentford swooped in and paid £5m (US$5.69m) for the prolific scorer, plus add-ons. His record-setting 31 goals scored during the 2020-21 term ensured them a place in the EPL, where his goal-scoring exploits have continued to alert interest from Jamaica and then England.
Toney, who skipped yesterday’s 2-2 draw at Nottingham Forest because of suspension, rejected the overtures of the JFF in March 2021 when they were aiming to reach Qatar 2022.
JFF president Michael Ricketts claimed at the time in the media that Toney was in the process of acquiring a Jamaican passport in order to become a Reggae Boy.
Fast forward 20 months and Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz have upped the ante with a lucrative shirt sponsorship deal from German manufacturer adidas, paying for the introduction of an elite head coach. Former dentist and ex-Iceland head coach Heimir Hallgrimsson will officially be at the helm for Jamaica next year, having signed a deal with the JFF after his contract with Qatar Stars League club Al-Arabi expired.
With the 2026 World Cup finals taking place in Canada, Mexico and the United States then Jamaica’s three biggest rivals in the CONCACAF region are automatically granted places, so the Boyz are expected to breeze through qualifiers. Add the fact that the number of nations will expand from 32 to 48 in four years, then it is no wonder that the JFF expect the Boyz to return to the showpiece tournament that they graced just once in 2018.
Toney will be aged 30 by then, and if he can’t make the England squad for these World Cup finals then surely representing Jamaica would be his best bet to play on the world’s biggest stage.
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