Trio suspended as A-League battles betting scandal

Bet-fixing charges levelled at three Macarthur FC players are set to overshadow the A-League Men's semi-finals as the trio received formal suspensions.

Bulls captain Ulises Davila was arrested and charged on Friday for allegedly paying teammates Kearyn Baccus and Clayton Lewis to deliberately receive yellow cards while he was taking instruction from a "controller" in South America.

Football Australia stood the players down on Friday night, hitting them with no-fault interim suspension notices under their code of conduct.

Davila's former club Wellington will host Melbourne Victory in the second leg of its semi-final on Saturday afternoon before the Central Coast Mariners tackle Sydney FC.

But those fixtures have taken a back seat to the unheralded accusations against the celebrated Macarthur team leader and the two younger players.

Police say the trio's alleged yellow-card manipulation led to hundreds of thousands of dollars being paid out in betting winnings internationally in suspicious transactions that helped trigger the investigation.

All three are yet to face court and have been granted bail ahead of scheduled appearances later in May and in June.

"This is very troubling news for the Australian football community and beyond," Football Australia CEO James Johnson said.

"The conduct that has been alleged has no place in our game. We will do everything we can to get to the bottom of it and no stone will be left unturned."

One of the arrested players
The men are accused of taking part in a betting scam involving yellow-card fixing. (HANDOUT/NSW POLICE)

Macarthur CEO Sam Krslovic said he spoke with Davila on Friday, stating the Mexican was "full of remorse" and "upset that he did it".

But Mr Krslovic said he focused on providing counselling for his player rather than discussing the allegations with him.

"I didn't go into it all ... but what's been alleged, there's obviously some merit to it," he told 2GB Sydney on Friday night.

"I'm shocked, as a club we feel sad and feel betrayed … he was obviously a leader of our club and our marquee signing."

Former Socceroo Robbie Slater labelled the allegations "incredibly dumb, selfish and very unprofessional".

"It's a terrible day in what has been a worse year in the league with all the problems the (Australian Professional Leagues) have had to deal with ... this is just another bad story," he told Sky News on Friday.

Another former Australian international, Craig Foster, labelled the allegations "shocking" and said they raised questions about the link between gambling and sport.

Clayton Lewis
Macarthur's Clayton Lewis was allegedly involved in the betting scheme. (Steven Markham/AAP PHOTOS)

The cash-strapped A-League operator announced a stack of redundancies in January, culling almost half its workforce to "create efficiencies".

The league organisation also scrapped its annual Dolan-Warren awards night due to financial pressures, leaving the late Johnny Warren's family caught off-guard by the decision.

Newcastle is still searching for a new owner after former backer Martin Lee was stripped of his licence in 2021 for not injecting any money into the club.

And Canberra United was almost forced to fold earlier in the season, with its governing body complaining of financial stress and refusing to guarantee it would fund the club before the territory government tipped in $200,000.

Former Socceroo Mark Bosnich questioned whether the A-League would recover from its latest setback.

"It's damning for the league which has suffered greatly the last few years, there's been setback after setback," he told SEN radio.

"It's really a black eye for the game."