Belfast Telegraph

A real spot of bother

By Robert Fenton

Match-fixing dominates the headlines again, but the real surprise is anyone's surprise that 'spot-fixing' continues.

While bookmakers, especially the illegal ones dominating the Asian markets where big money is taken, continue to offer a plethora of markets in-play, the temptation to cheat and take backhanders will mushroom.

Modern-day fixing is not like the old days where perpetrators had to influence the result of a match. That's long gone and not necessary to land major bets. Simply ensuring a red card can produce massive profits as punters are able to bet to win and lay back before a match is concluded.

The time of goals, number of goals, corners, red and yellow cards, are all available and open to manipulation. What's to stop a referee wagering on how many cards he'll dish out? Naturally he won't place the bet himself and doesn't even have to worry about betting. He or she merely takes a payment from those wanting to exploit the market.

Betting in-running is where the biggest problem lies. A red card will ensure a massive shift in prices. For example, a team who are 4/6 to win and go a goal up, will shift in-running to around 1/6. The opposition get a player sent off so that price will crash to 1/25 or lower. That means big punters who have taken the 4/6 can ensure a profit by laying back at various points. It's known as hedging or arbitraging.

Six players have been arrested following fixing allegations in Football League matches.

Meanwhile, few local bookmakers will take a lumpy single bet on an Irish League match. Punters, more often than not, are faced with multiples or having stakes limited to maybe £100. However, there are no limitations on betting exchanges where a wager of £50,000 or more might not even raise an eyebrow.

Fixing is limited but to think it will go away while opportunities present themselves is naive. Greater vigilance by authorities is needed with greater exposure and harsher penalties for those involved.

Bookmakers have their own means of determining suspicious activity and where there is clear indication of unusual or irregular betting patterns, the firms should be contacting the governing bodies before a game starts. That fixture could then be cancelled and re-arranged, immediately voiding all bets.

Belfast Telegraph

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