27 year old Ivan Toney is now free to resume his playing career with Brentford following on from his eight month ban from football for breaking the Football Association’s gambling rules.
Having signed a five year deal with the club back in 2020, he was forced to go on a hiatus following the investigation and charge, and personally it could not have come at a worst time for the player as he was in a rich scoring streak for them. Having made 64 Premier League appearances for them, he had returned 32 goals and there was huge talk on the rumour mill of a move to one of the more established Premier League teams at the point, and in 2023 he earned his first England international cap in a 2-0 victory over Ukraine.
Having now completed his suspension in full, he is understandably looking forward to getting his career back on track.
“It feels like we lost wi-fi connection but we’re back connected again and reloaded. I feel like a free man. It feels like a weight lifted off my shoulders. I have a target of how many goals I want to get.”
Having been charged with 232 breaches of the betting rules in the sport, Toney has not taken to a competitive pitch since May 6, 2023. As part of the terms of the ban, he was allowed to return to full training in September, so he could properly rebuild his fitness with a more limited chance of picking up an injury, but until today he could not come back into competitive contention for manager Thomas Frank.
With Brentford set to face Nottingham Forest this coming Saturday, it is fully expected that Toney will feature in some part of the game, although the educated guess is as a substitute as heavy training, ironically, is no substitute for true match sharpness.
Despite his ban though, his potential and performance levels have still seen clubs like Arsenal and Chelsea linked with having an interest in him, and if he can hit the ground running in what remains of this month, there could well be a cheeky bid for Brentford to address – not least the specifics of the financial cost that his club may have had to swallow in this period.
Having scored a hattrick for Brentford’s B side against Southampton’s U23 team, and scored from the penalty spot in a friendly against Danish side Brondby as he rebuilt his fitness, their fans will be hoping that shows signs of him quickly getting his form back, but if there is a financial element to solve, the club will have to weigh offers against that particular risk.
Having declared his gambling problem as now being over after help, given the talent the lad has, I am sure – regardless of your colours – the vast majority hope it was a lesson learned, and one that will not be repeated, so that we can simply enjoy his talents being back on the pitch.
Be that at Brentford again, or elsewhere. Some players just need to play, Toney is one of them.