English match-fixing scandals – the 10 stand out issues - Part 1

Published 30 December 2013 By: Kevin Carpenter

Since the match-fixing storm hit England late in 2013 much has been written and said across the media by a variety of interested parties including journalists and lawyers. In this two-part blog Kevin Carpenter highlights and provides comment on what he sees as the main issues.

On Thursday 28th November 2013 the dreaded (but entirely predictable) happened: match-fixing hit English sport full force. The undercover reporting that made the front page of The Daily Telegraph national newspaper that day was the first of two scandals to hit English football in the latter stages of 2013. The first related to match-fixing in the semi-professional game and the second to spot-fixing in the professional game. I, and other people who work in what can now be described as an 'anti-match-fixing industry', had predicted on more than one occasion this was going to happen sooner rather than later. There was an air of inevitability as English sport, in particular football, had taken a laissez faire approach to the threat of match-fixing, as many sports and jurisdictions do.

During this uneasy period for English sport there have been various people passing comment, some informed and others not so, on the issue of match-fixing both in England and globally. As we move into 2014, and as the two scandals progress, it seems appropriate to pick out and comment on some of the key issues that have arisen out of these scandals.

 

1. Difference between match-fixing and spot-fixing

This is closely connected with point 2 below in that to understand the dynamics about why match-fixing and spot-fixing occur one must understand the economics of global sports betting markets, both in the regulated and unregulated sectors.

Match-fixing is only attractive to global betting syndicates and organised crime where there is sufficient liquidity in the betting markets, therefore two such markets offered which are used to fix matches are the final result and the total number of goals.

Spot-fixing occurs in betting markets such as time of yellow cards or total number of throw-ins, and is often used a gateway to convince participants to match-fix. This is why it is important, despite the lower amounts and rewards involved, for sport to take spot-fixing seriously because of its effect on the perception of integrity of a particular sport. Spot-fixing is also less obvious, which is why it is easier to convince participants at higher levels of football to take part; as has been the case in England with the spot-fixing allegations made in relation to matches in the fully professional Football League. Sport administrators, the police and other interested stakeholders must understand this fundamental difference between the two offences so that resources and competences can be apportioned appropriately. To understand the differences in greater depth read this excellent article by sports betting expert and journalist Ed Hawkins.

 

2. Fundamental misunderstanding of sports betting markets

 

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Kevin Carpenter

Kevin Carpenter

Kevin is a advisor and member of the editorial board for LawInSport, having previously acted as editor. In his day-to-day work he has two roles: as the Principal for his own consultancy business Captivate Legal & Sports Solutions, and Special Counsel for Sports Integrity at leading global sports technology and data company Genius Sports.

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