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Spot fixing in the Premier League

Spot Fixing in English Premier league

Dilshan Mohemad

On the back of Pakistan cricket teams spot fixing scandal one has to wonder how clean is the English game and could it be also targeted by bookies if it has not been already.

First we must understand what spot fixing is. It is different from match fixing. Match fixing sees a games out come manipulated but spot fixing deals with a specific incident in the game such as bookings, throw ins, corners etc. This form of fixing will be harder to detect and though might not have a direct link to the final result of the game it could still have influence in the final result.

The English game has already has at least one incident of spot fixing scandal. Matt Le Tissier admits in his biography about him trying to take advantage of spread betting in a game against Wimbledon in 1995. This particular case involves a throw in. Now the throw in might not directly affect the game but it is possible that this could easily lead to a goal and hence influence the game.

Now one argument put forward is that Premier league footballers are well paid and there is no need for them to risk all this buy getting caught in such acts. Which on the surface of it sounds a strong argument, but if recent history is anything to go by no amount of money is enough for most of modern day footballers and further they are hugely influenced by those who are around them.

Last year it was alleged that the then England captain try to rent out his Wembley box as well as being accused of selling tours into his club’s training facilities without the knowledge of the management.

Now he is one of the highest paid footballers in the world and he was still the captain of England national team when this alleged incident took place. This is one small example of how today’s footballers are driven by money, with some exceptions, and that they could be easily influenced by the lure of money.

Another factor we must consider is what might have driven these Pakistan cricketers towards these corrupt bookies. These players travel around the world and are often in close contact with fellow players of other nations when they are on tour. If one looks closely at these players’ back ground it is easy to realize that they earn significantly less than what their fellow professionals in the game.

Human nature is such that they would want to live a life style that will nearly match that of their fellow professionals all around the world.  But the money they are paid by Pakistan cricket board is far  from enough for that and they will have to turn to other means to bridge the gap.

Now apply this to the PL and it is very clear that there is a significant gap between what a player earns in a top club to that of what a player will be earning in a smaller club on the fringes of PL.

Football has always been a sport that has always had strong links to bookies and the amount of money changing hand in bookies over a Saturday afternoon is staggering, and one has to wonder when the money at stake is such high is it not inevitable that there will be some who will look to corrupt the system for their personal gains?

Further, another factor that must be considered in the wake of the cricket spot-fixing scandal is that of where these bookies have approached the players. It is also reported that both Bangladesh and Australian players were also approached while they were touring in England and add to that the  allegation against a couple of Essex cricket players, it is very clear that these corrupt bookies operate from England and how long before they approach a footballer or even worse a match official.

It all leads me to wonder how clean is our beautiful game? After all most of top European countries (Germany, Italy, Turkey) have faced match fixing scandals already.

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33 comments to Spot fixing in the Premier League

  • Adam

    Look and see how many times the ball is kicked straight out of play from the start of the game.

  • Dark Prince

    I wouldn’t think spot fixing will be there in the top teams. Mostly bcoz as you said, they earn enough. But yes, players from smaller teams would be at a greater risk. I remember the incident when Wenger was the manager of Monaco, and some of his players got involved in match fixing. It was a real shame.

  • Common Sensei

    If there is any spot-fixing going on at this level; top of the premier league …. then it certainly isn’t going to be by the players who are under such enormous pressures to WIN these games that it would be totally counter-productive for them. Not to mention that the stress it would cause even without being discovered would make it not worth doing!

    Look at the FA and the referees if you want to see where these results are being played with:

    Inconsistancy is something we all relate to decision made by the FA and it’s referes. if 48’000 people can all see the ball hit the back of the net during a game (against Man Utd) but somehow the ref and all his assistants miss it, there is something wrong with the standard of refereeing.

    And even worse than this – if the FA then refuse to take retrospective action (the same as with Thierry’s hand of God goal against Ireland) then you have to start to wonder where along the timeline of the sport – that money became more important than football.

    And you have to ask, where it will lead to: Because (Arsenal not withstanding) the money in the game and the WIN AT ALL COSTS mentality is just going to get worse the more people associate it with results and don’t associate it with cheating.

  • Common Sensei

    I missed the last sentence:

    The worse it will get until nobody cares about the football and it is purely about who can afford all the trophies this year.

  • Adi

    Another thing influencing this might be the state or the condition of the game itself in the parent country. Pakistani cricket has been in turmoil for a few years now, with high profile players being suspended, then called back, their test captain quitting stating the team is not geed enough etc etc. It is really sad that these players are involved because all three of them were extremely talented, but maybe they believe that their talent is not going to be enough to sustain themselves. Another blow for the Pakistani players was not being involved in the lucrative IPL which did pay well. All in all the way that the game was managed could have also pushed these players over the edge. And finally yes I am with you, I truly hope that the beautiful game of football does not suffer the same fate.

  • Terence McGovern

    Surely it was Marseille that were the authors of the match fixing involving the bribing of Monaco players.

    How you phrase it seems to implicate AW but then you knew that dark prince.

    anyway here is the a link to the difinitive work on football match fixing which has made the bestsellar list in alot of countries but nobody will carry it in the UK probably because it would get buried under a mountain of super duper injunctions etc.

    http://www.howtofixasoccergame.com/

  • Common Sensei

    I just think players who take money to cheat in games ruin the sport and cannot blame anything else. it comes down to their own personal responsibility and their upbringing.

    I was brought up in a very liberal environment and told I could do whatever I wanted so long as I was not caught and it didn’t hurt anybody; and whilst people always disagree with that –

    I can honestly say I never ever end up ‘accidentally’ cheating lying or hurting people, or the activities I love. Because I know the difference between good and bad, wrong and right. We all do if we really put our minds to it.

    The second we start using ANY excuse at all for cheating we are in denial, and lying to ourselves as these Pakistani players are doing.

    I feel sorry for the 18yr old one because he is practically still in nappies – but even so at 18 you are legally allowed to drink, marry, drive and everything else so to say you don’t want to take the responsibility for your own CHEATING and then lying about it …. pure and simply proves that you have no moral value and as a SPORTSMAN you are amongst the worst in the world.

    GOOD sportsmen DO NOT cheat. This is why titles don’t always equal sporting brilliance – be it in Cricket, Football or anything else where we choose to compete with each other.

    CHEATING is not COMPETING is what I tell my children, and what my parents always taught me and it get’s truer as the days pass.

  • Dark Prince

    @terrance mcgovern- sincerely apologise, if my statement seemed to implicate AW. I was talkin about when he was the manager of Monaco and AW got cheated by his players themselves and that was a shame. Hope such things dont happen.

  • Dark Prince

    Also i would like to point out is that in high profile games, the referees are highly at risk to get into spot fixings or even match fixings. They seem to be the most vulnerable people during important games. And we all know about controversial decisions that refs make in such games. Is it possible that refs are gettin involved every week???

  • walter

    I remember those spot fixing allegations in Holland some years ago. Where you could place a bet on when the ball would go out for the first time. Where you could bet when a penalty would be awarded.
    It even had one of their top refs suspended because a relative (or a friend) had won a big sum with him giving a very controversial penalty. But I my memory serves me right at the end of the day the ref was not punished as nothing could be proven.
    Also players had been accused but again to prove such things is almost impossible without confessions from the people involved.

  • walter

    And in Belgium in the second division (the first division in England) there have been incidents where Chinese gambling syndicates bought games. They also bought games from a first division club (PL) that went down but had some very bizar games.
    Some players confessed and got not punished because they co-operated in the investigations.

    Only a few weeks ago the investigations was finalized and the prosecuter is going to charge 31 persons in total for match fixing.

    If in those days you looked like a Chinese person and loved football you could get in trouble when you came to a first or second division match…..

  • Common Sensei

    @Walter

    Which team was that?? Haha I must have been living under a rock or something that sounds like a huge huge deal!

    Bloody cheats!!! They make my blood boil …. What’s the point?

  • Terence McGovern

    @Dark Prince: It’s all good mate!

  • walter

    Common sensei, the team that was most involved was Lierse SK. If you are older and remember a golden era of Leeds United you might recall that they got beaten heavily at home when they were a very strong team by Lierse (in the 70ties???).
    The legend is that when the players from Leeds come out of their dressing room the directors after that painfull defeat hung up a board with the words: “Remember Lierse”.
    To prevent the team to think they would face an easy task on the field.

    Anyway the bribing of some players and the coach was almost like a thriller with players being threatened and also their family being threatened.
    The main figure was a Chinese “businessman” who first wanted to buy the club but in fact he just wanted to buy the results. 😉

  • 0.9 Calibre

    I’d like elaborate on common sensei’s first point. Footballers are under tremendous pressure to “Win” (note that it isn’t the same as “performance”, something which can be easily influenced by money in Cricket). In Cricket, an odd century or a match winning fifty will give the batsman (similar arguments for bowlers) a “buffer period” during which his form or “performance” is not under tough scrutiny. Cricketers use this buffer period to indulge in activities that kill the sport. Football is fast, you dont perform in a game and in a coupla games you are on the bench and soon you are phased out of the club and the spotlight. In cricket, a batsman could score all the centuries he wants without “winning” things and he’ll find his position cemented in the team. In football its just not worth it! The money is not substantial compared to your wages and sponsors (Yes! Scandals kill sponsors). Please gentlemen, do not quote John Terry here, the poor guy has to fund himself, his WAGS AND has to constantly bail out atleast one member of his family every month, So yeah he kinda needs the dough (Yeah, thats what JT calls it, Dough!)! In cricket, Spot fixing eventually culminates into “match-fixing” i.e if Pietersen(is he still playing? I dunno) just decided to throw his wicket away then that affects the result “significantly” but whether a throw in or the odd free kick affects the result significantly is still debatable. In my opinion, I think our beautiful game is still relatively clean. No game can be absolutely clean. There is just too much money and at the end of the day players are just human beings in their honorable jerseys!

  • Common Sensei

    I would agree with that, apart from the bit that says something like ‘for John Terry its fair enough because XYZ excuse’.

    Guys like JT should be banned from competing, coupling, reproducing and talking!

    You know he has 3 kids who are most likely all going to grow up to be Chelsea players. And you know the chances of them growing up to respect the true values of competition are very slim to none!

  • Common Sensei

    Infact the only situation under which I would harbour even the smallest pica of regret for ‘poor old JT’ is if his entire family was freakishly burnt to death in some unexplainable accident; and on the way to the funeral he crashed his car and lost all his limbs.

    Yes, under that exact situation I think I would actually feel sorry for him. Failing that he deserves everything he gets and more! Cheating lying dispicable excuse for a human being and a definite inspiration for birth control 😀 hehe

  • dilshan

    I missed out on pointing out another situation where spot fixing could be considered almost expectable by players. Last year Man U V wolves game at old Trafford. Mick Macarthy had already decided that there was no chance his team was going to win and the wolves players new that too well and now if a bookie approaches one of the wolf player and asks him to concede a pen or even get SO for a significant amount of money would his temptation not be even greater as his manager has already decided that this was one game they were not going to win and so surely would there be any harm in getting SO and pocketing a huge some of money. I am not saying it happened in that game but surely it is those type of games that could easily damage the game. Also we have to look at how easily Rooney got into gambling Debt recently despite being one of the top earners in the game. Yes Pakistan team was in turmoil and were easy targets but we have to remember that Hanse Cronje captain of South Africa and Azharudeen captain of India also got caught and these players did not come from a back ground of turmoil and further has massed a fortune through cricket as well as players Like Shane Warne of Australia and Alec Steward of England were also implicated and fined and got away due to lack of evidence. For me the biggest concern is that these bookies are operating in England and there will be no bigger attraction than the PL for them, weather through players or even Match officials

  • Gooner Gal

    Dilshan, you articulate what I have been wondering. We have had race fixing in F1 which resulted in a ban for Briatore, dishonesty in rugby with doctors cutting players lips, steriod use in the tour de france & in athletics and the current cricket scandal. I think Liverpool’s Bruce Grobbelaar was alledgedly involved in match fixing at one point.

    I think footballers with huge gambling debts could be quite susceptible to being involved in a dodgy scandal. Eider Gudjohnsen apparently ran up debts of £6M debt and I think he said in an interview he had to get away from the EPL because of addiction and Matthew Etherington had to ask West Ham for something like £500,000 wage advance because the people he owed called in the debt. It wouldn’t be to hard to imagine someone offering a player a way out of debt and the player going along with it in order to hide their addiction from their clubs whom would rather ship the player out instead of providing long term help.

    I also want say in all seriousness I thought the Spud win against Young Boys was a bit suspect. There was so many decisions against Young boys in 50-50 challenges, offside goals given, the YB manager sat in his seat staring into the abyss and didn’t react at all for most of the game, he made suprisingly poor tactical changes, the players didn’t really shoot or attack in the way they had previously and YB had a player sent off. It was really odd how they collapsed. Defoe scored a great goal, but I was suprised how poorly he was marked throughout his time on the pitch. I would of grudgingly given Spuds their dues, if it hadn’t been so apparent that something was amiss.

  • Jimmie

    Didn’t mark grobbler ( ex liverpool keeper) was caught in match fixing scandal may be 10 years back???

  • Gooner Gal

    Jimmie, I can’t remember if he was ever found guilty. But to me he was a KOP legend so I don’t think any star player or club captain of a team is above suspicion if recent history is anything to go by.

  • Common Sensei

    Whats all these excuses about ‘team in turmoil’ and ‘doesn’t come from right background’?? 🙂 Hey look I understand you maybe feel that these guys are making your whole country look bad and you want to defend that position;

    The point doesn’t change though – these are dishonest and untrustworthy people. Guys who can be bought and sold like bars of soap or tickets or anyting else. Scumbags.

    But nobody is saying the whole of Pakistan is that way!! Haha far from it, I know loads of Pakistanis who feel exactly as strongly as I do about cheats. Infact these guys are the ones copping the flak – so they are probably 100 times as angry as I was when I saw it.

    Cheating is not a racial or national problem. It is a HUMAN RACE problem, because people ignore their natural herd instinct.

    All people (‘cept for the nutty ones born crazy) have a natural instinctual affinity with others around them. Any race or colour it doesn’t matter – I feel it whenever I see somebody getting shouted at in the street and they look scared or something …. we all have that built in at birth.

    It’s just such a shame that through miseducation or bad upringing or whatever, that we over-write this natural collective cameraderie with prejudice.

    One day though I firmly believe people will wise up and go back to basics. And when it does nobody will WANT to cheat to win a pile of coins, because they will already know that in the end the only person they are cheating is themselves.

  • Pat

    Top comment there Sensei, I see it the same way as well. Its probably the Capitalism lol

  • Dark Prince

    @common sensei- completely agree with you!! 🙂 and that was good use of words to express ur idea.

  • The expose that happened a few years back culminating in the late Hansie Cronje and Mohammad Azharuddin amongst others receiving life bans did help in cleaning up the game a bit. Potential cheats realized the severity of the punishment that they were facing and it is my opinion that this did act as a deterrent.

    However, Pakistani cricketers while supremely talented do have a history of falling foul of the the law; legal and the ICC’s. When people say team in turmoil Common Sensei, they don’t mean it racially and they certainly don’t mean that the whole of Pakistan is like that. But it’s probably a correct observation that almost the whole of Pakistani Cricket is like that.

    Just look at their past record. Random upheavals, indiscriminate bans, even more indiscriminate revoking of said bans and recalls, Favoritism, Corrupt Team Selection policies, I could keep going really. The deal is deep down the entire system of Pakistani cricket is rotten.

    Add to that, the fact that Pakistanis aren’t getting a slice of the highly lucrative pie that is the Indian premier League just makes it easier to understand why the entire issue came about.

    That is probably what people mean when they say turmoil. The money in cricket is nowhere close to what Premier League stars earn and the lure of a quick buck often proves too tempting a prospect for these players.

    Bottom line is, Pakistani cricket needs to address it’s deficiencies from the bottom up.

  • Common Sensei

    Why do these guys get into Cricket then if all they want is money? A smarter move would be to become a bookie or something where money IS the most important aspect.

    I am cynical in my view of systems and associations in authority. I think that they have corruption built in … governments, the FA, the PCB all of them are just the same.

    This is why it HAS to come from the sportsmen themselves to stand against the dishonesty. They are the ones playing the matches, they are the ones making the decision at the time; whether or not they cheat for personal gain at the expense of the rest.

    Yes I do think Pakistani cricket needs a bottom up review, but that could take years and the systems in place to actually do the review are just as susceptible to corruption. In the mean time it is purely down to each individual to act in honesty or to cheat. It is solely down to the players and if they ALL flatly refused to cheat, and people KNEW that they were that kind of player –

    Well they would never even get approached in the first place because people would know they valued their sport and their own reputation and ethics more than any amount of money.

  • Common Sensei

    @Pat + Dark Prince

    Thanks guys! I’m glad to see such instinctive agreement, but I am not surprised as Untold for me attracts and retains that type of user.

    Infact when we next win the league; I think I would even go as far as inviting everybody from Untold and all the posters who kept pushing the Arsenal way and fighting the flow of angry negative posters out for a celebratory drink after the final game of the season!

    After everything it would be amazing to be surrounded by true fans and revel in the beautiful game, the honesty of our clubs approach and of course …… bragging rights earned in the right way

  • walter

    Be careful Common Sensei, before you know it we are standing at your door. 😉

  • Murad

    Dilshan, I’ve been thinking about this myself quite lately, but just some points i’d like to add here:

    Firstly you say the footballers are paid considerably more, true but then we also need to look into the different dynamics of betting here – is that much more money being bet on football than on cricket matches!! I would say quite possibly, for example a bookies might be able to pay a million pounds for say X player to get a yellow card in the first fifteen minutes of the match.

    Secondly the dynamics of the betting rings have to be considered as well, bookmakers in the sub-continent are often ‘underground’ and illegal, if book keepers in the UK or Europe, specially the online ones start taking significant bets on a particular incident, these are often overlooked by authorities and the statistics are recorded! Thus it should be much easier to catch them.

    Finally we have to look at the ICC, they have been inept and have had running feuds between asian teams on various issues. I think penalties in the forms of bans and fines have to come down from the top level. They had previously seen complaints from various players from around the world and I personally think have done very little to curb the matter. Are they weaker then FIFA or UEFA in these matter? I would think so!

    p.s. Maddy I’m from Pakistan and completely agree with you! But its the whol system in the country, if a player like Aamir (at only 18) grew up seeing corrupt practices around them…. one can only guess the outcome I would think!!

  • dilshan

    that would be this next summer common sensei and with a bit of a luck we could toast for a PL and CL double…count me in

  • dilshan

    Football and every other sport should look at how American Baseball dealt with corruption within the sport and made sure it is eradicated though strong and hard measures and within that last couple of weeks Australian Rugby League is also caught up in corruption so the footballing authorities can not continue to sit and await.

  • Dark Prince

    @common sensei- Cheers to that!! 🙂

  • Rhys Jaggar

    A clear possibility would be award of a penalty. You can bet yes/no in a match. It would be easy to fix that, as long as the two teams agreed to miss the penalty……….

    0-0 at half time is easy to fix.