Thursday, 31 July 2014

Insider Trading Is Not Necessarily Match Fixing

Last night was an incredibly depressing defeat.
It was a humiliating and, most likely, an immensely costly loss.
But it wasn't match fixing and it wasn't corruption and it wasn't illegal.

Anyone watching the match could see that things weren't right - a woeful defence, some astonishingly poor performances, a total lack of fitness, a referee with a liking for our friends from Ajax, key players absolutely drained after World Cup exertions, Scott Brown's absence, the negative impact of playing a meaningless friendly against St Pauli instead of resting up for a match that might define Celtic's season...

These are not conspiracies or criminalities, they are real fundamental facts affecting the outcome of a football match.

An insider might choose to bet and profit from a combination of this public and private knowledge plus any extra nuggets he might possess.
This isn't illegal.
It doesn't even mean that the insider isn't professionally focused on the club.
It simply means that he wishes to benefit financially from his privileged position.
And it does not mean the match is bent...
... but it does mean that the game is.

Some stuff...

  • Some English Premier League matches have global betting turnover in the billions of pounds. You can get millions of pounds accepted by brokers in Asia on such games without them even blinking. Referees earn less than £2K per week. Referees are a major feature in virtually all corruption episodes around the world. Match fixing results.
  • Players have lifelong allegiances to their agents that surpasses any club loyalty (with some honourable exceptions).Some agents also bet professionally. In some games, all of a defence will be represented by one or two agents or more than 50% of the players on the pitch will be represented by four agents, for example. Some agents work very closely together in a cartel fashion. Match fixing results.
  • The brands demand certain outcomes. Brazil winning the opening match of the World Cup, say, or the existence of certain referees past and present in the SPL, or UEFA wishing for G14 powerhouse Juventus to be eased past Celtic in the Champions League courtesy of Undiano Mallenco. This results in match fixing.
  • It would be easier to list the teams in the English Premier League and Championship that don't have very active betting activities associated with them than those that are legitimate. Imagine the scenario where a team is playing an end of season match of no consequence and the owner of the club is a bookmaker who has significant (and ethically awkward) betting market liabilities on the game. For the bottom line of the club, the less ethical route is much more financially rewarding. This is match fixing and it isn't illegal.
  • Bookmakers, brokers, market makers, dark pool traders, market professionals, regulators, the police, UEFA and FIFA all recognise that match fixing is massively widespread. But there is no global regulation against insider trading (whether match fixing or just taking profit from insider knowledge). Market platforms seek the trades of insiders as it improves their market knowledge and hence their financial returns. They actively trade this 'knowledge' elsewhere in the market. This isn't illegal. It is just high stakes poker. No bookie wants to be left with the liability when the game kicks off.
  • In horseracing, there is no incentive to throw the Derby or the Grand National due to the kudos and cash that results. However, the 3:15 at Catterick on a Tuesday afternoon when a leading bookmaker has massive liabilities on the 4/7 favourite is a different affair. This is fixing in another sport but the structure is identical to modern football. Except that the rewards in football are far far greater.
  • In financial markets, insider trading used to be legal in Britain until around 50 years ago. A broker could have lunch with an executive and short sell the executive's company based on private information from this encounter. This was market fixing and it wasn't illegal. But it is now. Football needs global regulation to tackle match fixing, corruption, money laundering and the tax avoidance associated with these practices. FIFA should be taking on this role rather than awarding World Cups to countries who (allegedly) shoot down passenger planes and those who murder their immigrant workforce via medieval employment practices in tropical heat.

We form part of a global cellular grouping of individuals from all areas of the game who are not satisfied with the manner in which money people are taking over the game.
We have developed proprietary software for monitoring and analysing financial and betting markets.
We explore the dark net for underground and dark pool operations.
We are frequently appalled by what we find but, historically, there have been few global bodies willing to stand up to the rampant corruption.
We also undertake consultancies - last season I worked for a German team and I'm now working with a body monitoring match fixing in football.
We do nothing illegal.
We just try to undermine corruption in football.

There is a much more determined effort by the likes of Interpol to address match fixing (see last blog post).
But match fixing is not just a problem in the Asian underground.
It is everywhere.

Of course, whether you accept that the above structures are demolishing the game is up to you.
We merely put some stuff in front of you and you can make up your own minds - Glaswegians (both Celtic and Sevco) have enough nous to understand match fixing and corruption when they see it.

But remember.
Nobody did anything illegal prior to the defeat in Warszawa.
Nothing to see there...
... apart from an inept performance, poorly planned, strategically stunted, financially disastrous and interestingly refereed.

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

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