The Football Association are to investigate suspicious betting patterns at a lower league match after large amounts of money were staked on a 22-1 outcome.

The FA were called in by bookmakers after Sunday's Blue Square Premier match between Grays Athletic and Forest Green Rovers.

Two bookies, William Hill and Blue Square, suspended betting the day before the game after a large number of bets - including three-figure sums - were placed on Grays to win after trailing at half-time. The match ended 2-1 to Grays, a team from Essex, who were losing 1-0 at the break.

An FA spokesman said: "We take these matters very seriously and we will investigate."

William Hill spokesman Graham Sharpe said: "When you have a meaningless end-of-season match you are not expecting to take much money and all of a sudden you are being offered a large number of bets for one outcome and some relatively substantial bets.

"It was a 22-1 shot for the home team to be losing at half-time and to win at full-time.

"The biggest sum placed was a three-figure bet so we suspended betting on Saturday afternoon. Interestingly, another bookmaker unbeknown to us did the same thing which suggests this not a freak occurrence."

The sums involved were not as high as that staked on the Accrington Stanley v Bury match last season which has led to the FA charging six players with breaching betting rules. On that game, one bookie alone took £281,000 in bets, 20 times the normal sum.

Sharpe said there was no reason for the heavy betting on the Grays v Forest Green game such as occurred two months ago when news spread among fans that another Blue Square Premier side Weymouth would be forced to play a team of youngsters against Rushden and Diamonds.

"If you can see an explanation you adjust the odds but if can't then you have to pull the plug on the game and report it to the Gambling Commission, which is the action we took," said Sharpe.

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