The Sweeper: The Threat of Match-fixing in British Football

The Fix

Just last week, UEFA announced 40 further investigations into match-fixing claims, but as Jonathan Wilson points out in the Guardian, this has elicited little interest in the British press.  Wilson notes that even though most of the concerns are related to Eastern Europe, “fixers” have been moving westward for some time — with German referee Robert Hoyzer jailed for his role in match-fixing a full four years ago.

And indeed, only yesterday it was announced that police were probing a match fixing claim in the Scottish Cup. Bookmakers and the club involved, Hawick of the Highland League, are already investigating themselves: after their 7-0 loss, the Hawick club secretary said “The club will move into a full investigation. My intention is to go to the training ground tonight to interview all the players who were involved in the game. There will be a full investigation by the club.”

Could or does this happen in the Premier League?  Jonathan Wilson points out that though the scrutiny on the league makes it harder, the volume of betting on the game makes a suspicious pattern harder to spot. And as I like to say, if it can happen on Dream Team, it can happen in the equally fantastic Premier League reality.

  • The founder of Hawk-Eye, the leading goal-line technology company, has written an open lettter to Sepp Blatter questioning his inconistent statements for and against the concept and application of the technology in world football. I can’t wait for Blatter’s thoughtful response.
  • A French fan, Brice Taton, recently attacked in a Belgrade bar by a group of 30 Serbian thugs wielding iron bars and bats, has died from the injuries he sustained. The French ambassador believes the Serbian authorities have not done enough to tackle extremist groups. “I am shocked at a certain compliancy towards this phenomenon, especially the statements that deny the need to dissemble these groups, which in the end leads to them being able to act freely,” Jean Francois Terra said.
  • Four Four Two looks at the top ten football computer games of all time. No quibbles about most of the inclusions — the two greatest, Sensible Soccer and Championship Manager, are rightly lauded — but a mention of the some of the innovative original games such as Football Manager on the Spectrum might have been a nice nod to how all this got going.
  • Skewering the vapidity of the “Fit & Proper Persons” ownership test in English football isn’t too hard, but Twohundredpercent does it particularly well once again. The commentary on Sulaiman Al-Fahim is particularly telling, as he notes with incredulity that Al-Fahim has apparently never heard of the concept of “planning permission”, something fairly useful to know about when one is supposed to be leading a new stadium project.
  • Speaking of unfit owners, who is going to buy a share of Liverpool?  I’ve no idea, and nor does the British press, with conflicting reports all over the place.

The Sweeper appears daily. For more rambling and links throughout the day every day, follow your editor Tom Dunmore @pitchinvasion on Twitter.

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