Newcastle have ‘hidden’ Sandro Tonali defence as former Metropolitan Police detective speaks out

Newcastle United should be spared criticism for not knowing about Sandro Tonali’s gambling addiction because it is ‘difficult’ to find out about such a ‘hidden’ habit. That is the view of Neil Whitbread, who spent nearly a quarter of a century as a detective for the Metropolitan Police, and now works as an investigations manager for the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT). Whitbread, in his role, helps football clubs[1] do remarkably detailed due diligence on prospective signings.

It must be said that Newcastle put a lot of time and energy into researching the character of players, themselves, and the Magpies had done their checks on Tonali before committing GBP55m to sign the Italy international from AC Milan. That is why the Italian Football Federation’s subsequent investigation and 10-month ban came as a particular shock as Tonali’s gambling struggles had not been flagged.

Eddie Howe said there was ‘absolutely no way we could have known’ and the Newcastle boss stressed there are ‘some things you will never know about someone’s personal life’.

Dan Ashworth asked himself ‘could I have done better?’ but the sporting director admitted ‘it’s a tricky one what you can and can’t know about people in this world’. Whitbread, for his part, echoed those sentiments because this was ‘not the old days of footballers going down to the bookies’. “I wouldn’t lay any criticism at Newcastle here,” he told the Athletic[4]. “I don’t know what processes they went through around it.

Were they as thorough as they could be? “They may not have found that out. We may not have found that out.

We’re not going to sit here and say, ‘We can find out absolutely everything about someone’s private life.’ We can find out most of it but if someone really wants something to be hidden, it can be difficult.”


  1. ^ clubs (
  2. ^ Richard Masters breaks silence on FFP rule change meeting for Newcastle and Premier League clubs (
  3. ^ Jose Mourinho had two PIF offers but Newcastle owners have already found their man (
  4. ^ the Athletic (