By Tony Attwood
Virtually everyone seems to agree there is match fixing in football, and everyone (apart from those who do it) agrees by and large that it should be stopped.
Unfortunately in examining these matters, no one in the media seems to want to take up the point of view that Untold has been putting across for over two years: the sanctity of the Premier League could be enhanced greatly if there was an increase in the number of officials in the Premier League.
If you increase the number of refs, then if there are referees who favour one team or another, they will get far less chance to influence for or against a team – because they will officiate with that team less often.
The utter failure of PGMOL (the organisation that supplies referees to the Premier League) to engage with this notion shows that PGMOL is being rather silly. (It would of course be quite wrong of me to suggest anything other than rampant silliness because although we have all the facts and figures and they appear on this site day after day, the reason behind PGMOLs bizarre decision remains beyond my limited intellectual abilities.)
But progress is being made.
Clearly there is something odd going on in PGMOL in that their web site that was previously open to all, as a way of expounding what they do, remains shut. Even more strangely the Wikipedia page on PGMOL has a notice saying that no one can modify the page. Now that is odd.
Meanwhile abroad revelations continue at a high rate, including a recent one that suggests that a lot of the football gambling industry is run out of a Cambodian border town from which (it is said) the police and other authorities are utterly absent.
Poipet, is, according to the descriptions that have been emerging of late, about as low as you can get. But the money it deals in is reputed to be quite large – £1 billion annually is a nice round figure, but this is what is quoted as the turnover of illegal gambling in this part of the world. Which I guess is why Europol started to get involved in looking at match fixing.
In fact Europol are suggesting that the town of Poipet is just one of many such towns – towns whose entire economy is based on match fixing. The money is placed in gambling shops in the town, and the bets are moved on to other parts of the region, and with each move the origin of the bets becomes less and less traceable.
So Poipet has gained a reputation, not of being the actual heart of the operation, but rather a fringe – a location that will handle your bet. As a result special buses are laid on from Thailand to the town so that Thai punters can join in the fun.
According to The Sunday Telegraph Poipet is a town where the two clubs supported are Manchester United and Liverpool – although just because their badges are everywhere does not mean that all the matches that are fixed are fixed in their favour. Bets can be of £50,000 a go, it is all illegal, and no one is moving an inch to close the operations down.
According to the report there is a lot of interest within this kind of venue in the Premier League, because of its incredibly high profile worldwide. And perhaps because the gamblers know, as we do, that it is not very difficult to predict results according to the referee.
This indeed was a central part of our recent article Arsenal receive an amazing boost in their search for a European spot next season. By looking at who the refs are likely to be, and by highlighting how those refs have treated Arsenal in the past, we started to predict results.
Now it is important to say that we have not had the slightest indication that anything involving Arsenal wittingly or unwittingly has anything to do with match fixing. It is just that Arsenal statistically do less well under certain referees – which is why people bet against Arsenal when a certain ref is on display.
When Walter did all his research (which is appearing on Untold day by day) what we were looking for were referees under who Arsenal do averagely well according to their Premier League statistics. And as we looked at the forthcoming matches we found those are the refs that Arsenal will be getting in the coming weeks.
Of course if PGMOL had more referees we would not have been able to make this prediction – everything here always comes down to the refusal of PGMOL to appoint more referees – especially referees from London and the south east. If you haven’t followed the series you might be surprised to know there aren’t any.
Meanwhile the Europol report suggested that it had found 680 games in 30 countries across the world that have been rigged. Obviously I know nothing of such matters beyond what I read in the paper – but I would emphasise the point that is made above. With the state of refereeing in the Premier League as it is, no one has to do anything other than look at who the ref in an Arsenal match will be, and then check the performance of that ref on our chart.
Indeed if you want an overall guide as to how easy it will be to predict any PL result just have a look at The Riley Factor.
And if you want to be assured that the notion of match fixing is real, and not a figment of Untold’s imaginatiion, you might like to note that just two months ago the acting president of the Asian Football Confederation Zhang Jilong described match-fixing across Asia as “pandemic”. In one interesting move David Beckham was appointed as a special ambassador for Chinese football in the hope that his Mr Clean image would restore faith in football – given that Mr B is giving his £170,000 a week salary to a children’s charity in Paris.
Except… the problem with using Mr B just at the moment, is that (as the Independent is suggesting) no money has flowed to the poor children of Paris, and Yann Guerin, the spokesperson for PSG has said, “No decision has yet been made. We are considering various options.” But the newspaper says that it has “picked up no trace of any attempt by PSG to invite, or study, candidatures by children’s charities in the Paris area. Groups which have written to the club have received only a brief, pro-forma letter in response. No follow-up approaches have so far been made.”
Of course Mr B has nothing to do with match fixing, but the story does show (to me at least) that China is not seriously engaged in sorting out its match fixing issues, but is engaged in a spot of short-term publicity work by buying in Mr B – whose image soared to new heights when the Paris kids’ story hit.
Meanwhile back in Cambodia the Telegraph picked up this quote: “All of the shops are owned by Chinese or ethnic Chinese from Singapore. My boss is from Singapore. He sent me here to open this place eight months ago. We make around 100,000 Baht (£2,300) a day.”
When The Sunday Telegraph went to bet on Swansea v Arsenal, the bet was placed via a Chinese language website in mainland China. The paper then cited Dr Visanu Vongsinsirikul, an expert on football betting at the Centre for Gambling Studies at Bangkok’s Chulalongkorn, who commented:
“Football betting began to become popular in Asia after the 1990 World Cup. But it is online gambling that has really enhanced its growth, and that’s because it allows for ‘live betting’. The actual rigging of matches is done in advance by agents – often former Eastern European footballers – who approach corrupt players and officials and then act as go-betweens with the likes of Dan Tan.”
- Four signings and a new hero
- So what is wrong in the PL: The Mike Riley Factor
- Untold Psychology: Why doing something is good for you
- The links between Uefa, Fifa, the Mafia and organised religion
- Financial Fair Play faces its first big test.
- Woolwich Arsenal: The club that changed football – Arsenal’s early years
- Making the Arsenal – how the modern Arsenal was born in 1910
- The Crowd at Woolwich Arsenal FC: crowd behaviour at the early matches
- Royal Arsenal: from the Common to the Manor. Coming next.