Thursday, 28 November 2013

Football Is Fixed!




The Telegraph investigation into match-fixing in the lower English leagues brings the focus of the spectre of the criminalisation of our beautiful game ever closer to the Premier League.

The revealing report written by Claire Newell and Holly Watt manages to expose a world that no insider is prepared to whistleblow and expose for fear of the consequences (

It is surely of passing relevance that it takes two women non-footballers to reveal the ugly truth about the English game.

To date, at least three current players and a former player-turned-agent have been arrested (amongst others).

Before moving onto the holistics of football corruption in this country, we would like to point out that we approached Paul Kelso (the Chief Sports Reporter) for the Telegraph with fulsome evidence (including testimonies) of a fixed English Premier League match from 2008.
As he had formerly worked under one of the perpetrators of that particular match-fix, we were not surprised when he refused our offer of a meeting. But this should be born in mind when we discuss where the real match-fixing is happening in England.

For sure, corruption exists in the lower leagues - the other week the ninth most traded match in one Asian market (on a Champions League night!) was Buxton versus Stockbridge Park Steels!
But when excessive and inappropriate volume exists on a lower league match, the majority of bookmakers and market makers simply suspend the book (unless they are able to hedge or advantageously trade the 'knowledge' elsewhere).

But the primary corruption occurs where the liquidity is secure and deep - the major European leagues, the Champions League and the World Cup Finals.

There are currently active police investigations into football match-fixing in over 60 countries.
That represents more than 30% of the FIFA Family.
The estimated global turnover on football betting is projected as £650 billion.
Although illuminatingly excessive, we suggest that this figure is an understatement.

The most voluminous trading on football markets takes place in Dark Pools where the footballing equivalent of institutional investors square off their illicit controls and acquired knowledges at the poker table that eventually determines the match outcomes.
Liquidity is everything as profits are proportional and we would be astonished if the flow of money over a year didn't exceed £1 trillion.

One of the most corrupt leagues on the planet is the English Premier League.
Yet here there is no exposure.
There are no arrests.

But there are also no regulations preventing corruption. 
And inappropriate structures abound that are seemingly primed for corruption.

An example...

The biggest turnover English Premier League matches are the televised events as these matches attract far more Asian underground money.
More volume = more profit if one is in control of the market.

One of the poorest referees on the PGMOB Select Group roster is Jonathan Moss (think the matches between Man Utd/ Crystal Palace, Man City/ Everton and Norwich/ West Ham this season for starters).
There also appears an unconscious bias in the officiating of Mr Moss in favour of West Bromwich Albion and against Aston Villa...
... entirely unconscious of course.

Mr Moss is a close acquaintance of Mr John Colquhoun - former footballer, football agent, Guardian newspaper football overlord, Scottish tourism ambassador, professional gambler, those sort of jobs - and they have been entwined together since their time at Sunderland two decades ago.

Colquhoun is immensely well connected in the English game and would appear to have some influence over Keren Barratt (the man at the PGMOB responsible for the selection of match referees).

For example, look at all the appointments in the Premier League for Mr Moss this season:

Chelsea v Hull City (Sky Live)
Everton v West Brom (4th Official)
Arsenal v Spurs (4th Official) (Sky Live)
Man Utd v C Palace (BT Live)
Liverpool v Southampton (4th Official)
Man City v Everton (BT Live)
West Brom v Arsenal (4th Official) (Sky Live)
West Ham v Man City (4th Official) (Sky Live)
Liverpool v West Brom
Norwich v West Ham (BT Live)
Fulham v Swansea (4th Official)
Cardiff v Man Utd (4th Official) (Sky Live)
Spurs v Man Utd (4th Official) (BT Live)

13 games.
9 major turnover live matches.
3 games involving West Brom.
Other referees of his standing and status have received between 0 and three live appointments.

This is a structure that clearly represents a potential conflict of interests if Mr Moss were criminalised (which we have to assume he is not) or if Mr Colquhoun had an interest in the global football betting markets (which, despite him being a professional gambler, we are sure he hasn't).

When one of the match-fixers states that referees across Europe can be bought for £20K per game, having one person in charge of selection of the officials for Premier League matches is a calamity waiting to happen.

This is just one example of the way that illegitimate loopholes might occur - we could offer you many others.

In football as in life, there are two forms of corruption.
That within the loop where all key power groups share an interest...
... or peripheral corruption of no benefit to those in the loop and therefore problematical as it might draw attention to the activities of those in the loop.

Interestingly, the police have made no contact with either the Premier League (under Mr Scudamore) or the Football League (under Mr Harvey) over their current investigations into match-fixing in the English game.

This could just be the biggest scandal to hit English football in decades (as the Telegraph are claiming).

Disclaimer: Nothing in this article suggests that any of the people mentioned are anything but beautiful warm-hearted individuals with the best interests of the integrity of the game at heart.
We merely point out systemic structures that could be easily utilised for corruption if ever a criminalised individual was ever to venture near the world of football. That's all, folks.

For many more itemised angles on corruption follow us on Twitter @FootballIsFixed

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