Sunday, 17 May 2009

The Love Of Money

Another reason to be very wary about betting in the lower leagues. As a loser on one of the games under investigation, I demand a refund! Seriously, I hope this story is like most in the Daily Mail - sensational, but lacking in facts, and I tend to think that if some of this stuff was true, that it would have come out before now. by Daniel King

At least five matches are being probed by football and gambling authorities for suspect betting patterns.

But The Mail on Sunday can reveal that betting on some games has taken a more sinister turn, with threats and intimidation by criminals added to the list of matches under investigation.

Last September, officials at Histon, the non-League club who beat Leeds on the way to the FA Cup third round this season, received telephone threats and the car of one was set on fire after a game against Lewes, in incidents confirmed by Cambridgeshire Police.

And it has been suggested that players and officials from Forest Green Rovers and Grays, whose match in the same Blue Square Premier last month is the latest known to be subject to an FA inquiry, were also threatened by third parties who were demanding the game finished a certain way.

An FA spokesman said: ‘Anything which interferes with the integrity of football is of great concern to us. We would do everything in our power to assist other bodies in addressing that.’

Although higher-level matches have also come under scrutiny in the past year — including Derby’s Championship clash with Norwich in October and the Accrington-Bury game in May last year, which led the FA to charge five players with breaking betting rules — the real unease surrounds gambling on matches just below the Football League.

Players and officials on lower wages are thought to be more tempted to risk breaking rules and to believe they are more likely to get away with it because the matches at that level take place, as one source put it, ‘under the radar’.

At least six matches are known to be under investigation for illicit betting, including Marine’s 4-0 defeat at Matlock in the UniBond Premier League last month and Weymouth’s 9-0 home defeat by Rushden in the Blue Square Premier in February.

But the word is that several more matches are also being investigated and that organised criminal activity is suspected in some cases.

Neither Forest Green nor Grays, nor the FA nor the Gambling Commission would comment on suggestions intimidation lay behind the alleged £1million betting coup in which large sums were staked on the 22-1 shot Grays recovering from a half-time deficit to win, which they did, 2-1.

But Histon chairman Gareth Baldwin confirmed rumours about events surrounding his club’s midweek game against Lewes on September 23.

Baldwin said: ‘Our club and its officials did receive threats and one of our officials did have his car blown up overnight after the game.’

Within 30 seconds of Lewes taking a surprise lead against a Histon side which was a short-priced favourite to win the game, the first of 38 threatening phone calls to seven club officials was made.

The caller warned of dire consequences if Histon did not win and claimed to know where officials worked and lived, and even where their children went to school.

A last-minute equaliser earned Histon a draw but at just before 1am the following morning, a car belonging to club president Peter Betson was set on fire outside a college at Cambridge University, where he works as a night porter.

About an hour later a female official received a call warning her to leave her house because it was about to be firebombed.

Further threats were received in the days following the game, including a warning that unless Histon paid £100,000 — the amount the caller claimed his group had lost — the team coach would be ambushed while travelling to or from a forthcoming game at Wrexham and everyone on board shot.

Cambridgeshire Police subsequently handed over the investigation to Merseyside Police, who were unable to confirm reports that a man had been charged in connection with the allegations.

1 comment:

PhilipH said...

Money tends to damage most sports in so many ways, especially when it involves betting. The old saying: "Where there's muck there's brass" could well be applied to sports betting, the "muck" being the corruption so often tainting football, cricket and racing ... not forgetting boxing and no doubt numerous other sports.