Friday, June 12, 2009

Match-fixing considerations...

With Royal Ascot just around the corner, I've decided to keep my powder dry this weekend, in anticipation. I looked at the five furlong Scurry Stakes at Sandown; the conditions of the race appear to favour Adorn but the draw in berth one hasn't done him any favours and to date he has been campaigned over a furlong further. Course and distance winner Triple Aspect faces a stiff task giving ten pounds to six of his nine opponents and five pounds to the remaining three while Noble Storm is well drawn but has plenty to find on official ratings. I'm leaving well alone. I'd noted that Donald McCain's only runner at Hexham was in the concluding bumper but this evening the Racing Post indicate Whiteabbey is a doubtful starter.

Notwithstanding the transfer of Cristiano Ronaldo to Real Madrid for the small sum of £80 million, there has been plenty of talk of match-fixing in the media this week...

Now, I'd be the first to point out that sport and religion don't always make the best of bedfellows. Granted, many consider supporting their favourite football team something akin to religion and I can recall Jeffrey Bernard stating in a book that an acquaintance of his once entered 'two mile handicap chases' in the religion box on a job application form. Still, on Tuesday night, seated in the nave of Coventry Cathedral, I listened to former New York mob boss Michael Franzese talk about corruption in sport; all very interesting, if slightly incongruous. His presentation, together with that of Betfair MD Mark Davies, formed part of the Play The Game 2009 conference. The message from Tuesday's evening session in a nutshell - match-fixing is out there, it's going on and it's getting bigger. A possible solution? Get to young players early, educate them and let them know that if they're caught, their careers will be over. Mark Davies was interested in offering 'trackable' betting systems in a regulated market to consumers at a price they wanted.

On Thursday morning the BBC ran a story that William Hill were considering stopping betting on certain football matches next season. That evening The Report on Radio Four talked about match-fixing in football and tennis, with the League Two fixture between Accrington Stanley and Bury coming to the attention of the authorities, as have two games in the Blue Square Conference, Grays Athletic v. Forest Green Rovers and Histon v. Lewes. Another story, released by the BBC on the same day, indicated that 'between September 2007 and March 2009 the Gambling Commission investigated 47 cases of alleged match-fixing and illegal betting on British sporting events.' Most of the cases investigated in the UK concern football, horse racing and snooker.

The consensus opinion - ignoring these developments is not an option.

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