When the most recent allegations about match fixing came out a few weeks back it shouldn’t have come as a shock to anyone, although it did.
There were some usual voices shocked that it may have taken place in the English game. How could it possibly have come so close to home when it was always thought to just be those foreign leagues that did such things?
When you talk about match fixing, it does conjure up images of shady Eastern European or Far East masterminds, but football is a global game like never before and it doesn’t matter who is behind it, the end result of any match fixing can realistically take place in any league in the world.
For many of us, football (most sports in fact) and betting go hand in hand. When one bookies came up with their “it’s more exciting when you have money on it tagline” a few years ago, they were spot on. It is.
There’s a big buzz when it comes to watching a game and you have money on the end result or for some aspect of the game to happen. Certainly makes a lot of the boring stalemates in the English Premiership a bit more bearable, although only if you win.
Of course as appalled as the football authorities are at such betting irregularities, they’re happy to allows their leagues and clubs to be sponsored by bookmakers and rake in the money from that.
The real sad thing about match fixing is that there is realistically very little that the authorities can do to stop it.
The term match fixing of course doesn’t really do what happens these days justice. It’s not so much about the end results of matches (was it ever?), and more about the spot bets. It is fairly easy to try and deliver a first throw in or a booking or a sending off and most of the time it will look fairly innocuous, unless you decide to punch a guy several times for no apparent reason!
The only surprise around there being irregularities and suspicion surrounding some matches in the English non league scene was that there wasn’t more. Players are paid so little, that it is an easy chance to make some money.
It does begs the question, should betting on matches at those low levels even be allowed?
In Canada, the Canadian Soccer League (CSL) was the subject of a TV investigation into the fixing of matches. This was the season before our very own Fife legend Div Muir went to ply his trade in it incidentally!
To put this into some context. The CSL was the third/fourth tier of the game in Canada behind MLS and the NASL. I say was as the Canadian Soccer Association decided to withdraw their sanctioning of the league and they are now operating as an unofficial outlaw league at this very moment in time.
Crowds were less than you’d find in the bottom division in Scotland, often in double digits. Again, farcical to even allow bets on such a league.
Even more farcical was that two seasons ago you could also bet on the PDL league, a Professional Development League in the US and Canada for U23s, most of whom were playing as amateurs and mostly for fun, but with the hope that someone may take notice of them.
If the powers that be really want to try and stop match/spot fixing, then they really need to look at what kind of betting can be allowed. Not that that would really do much and would realistically just move it to the higher level and greedier players.
As we said earlier, they are pretty powerless to stamp it out completely.
It’s just a bit disconcerting to know that you could be placing a bet on something that has already been decided in advance and whilst you may lose your tenner on it, someone else is raking in a five or six figure amount.
Is there really any such thing as a fair bet any more?