Thursday, 30 June 2011

Korean football faces shutdown over match-fixing

It's getting rather messy in South Korea, the imaginatively named K-League has been infested with match-fixing and now the government is getting involved.


K-League faces shutdown threat over match-fixing scandal


SEOUL, Jun 30 (Reuters) - South Korea's government has threatened to "shut down" the country's professional soccer league after losing patience with an embarrassing match-fixing scandal, which is in danger of spiralling out of control.

Clubs whose players are found guilty of being involved in match-fixing have been warned they face expulsion from Korea's domestic competition, local media reported on Thursday.

"If K-League players are caught trying to throw matches from this July, their teams will be forced out of the league," Park Sun-kyoo, Vice Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism told South Korea's Yonhap news agency.

"We will also consider shutting down the K-League in the worst-case scenario."



I was quoted in an AFP article recently on this very subject...

Asia: Every match-fixer's dream destination

The players are short of money and unhappy. Perhaps they have big debts. Perhaps their careers, which once promised so much, are petering out into nothing.

Whatever the reason, they are easy prey for match-fixers, who are now so rampant they are believed to operate in nearly every Asian football league, from Singapore to South Korea and most countries in between.

"We're not talking about [Uefa] Champions League or the World Cup finals or anything like that," said Britain-based Scott Ferguson, a consultant to the betting industry.

"We're talking domestic-level games where they're on a fairly mediocre wage. When someone comes up and offers a couple of grand [thousand dollars] to do this, their ears prick up."

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

around the traps

A lot to catch up on after my recent time away, here are some of the stories making the news:

The Australian Federal Government has promised a review of online gambling and might finally do away with the ridiculous ban on in-play betting online. But then again, they might not... Note the incorrect linking of Serie A matches with match-fixing for betting by the Australian Crime Commission.

Full Tilt Poker's licence has been suspended with immediate effect by Alderney regulators. Was it their decision or did the Yanks have a word in their ear?

Betfair are searching for a new CEO and analysts admit it is a "potential opportunity for improvement".

Financial results for Betfair show profits up but revenue down.

Punters are rallying against Betfair's decision to heftily increase the Premium Charge. Check out the Facebook group here.

Poland has signed in their draconian gambling legislation banning all firms without a local licence. As a result, some firms, including Ladbrokes, have started blocking bets from that country.

Speaking of Ladbrokes, they've been sniffing around Sportingbet for a prospective acquisition, just days after some 'expert' analyst thought Betfair might be the right suitor for SB, who have recently purchased Centrebet.

Betfair to screw biggest winners for more cash

Once upon a time, Betfair's best marketing line was 'Winners Are Welcome'. Not any more. In a desperate move to show the shaer market they have more options to increase their revenues, Betfair's biggest winners will be hit with an even higher Premium Charge rate.

For full details, read here - Betfair Premium Charge Hike details

Realistically, how many people will it affect? A very small number. You've got to have done very well to win £250k after commission over the years. But what will it do to liquidity? Well, the people it will hurt are the elite level traders such as Mr Bet Angel. Peter Webb and the best of his genre. Traders lose infrequently, so thus are destined to pay less commission than your average winning punter. The big liquidity providers who market-make across the board will be hit - 40% commission on your gross profits is a stiff ask, you'd need some heavy losses mixed in there to sweeten them up.

This comes on top of their less-publicised efforts to squeeze huge fees out of bookmakers using their commercial API service - over £1m/yr for the bigger firms!

Will 99.95% of us punters ever get near paying that level of Premium Charge? No. But at a time when their PR can't get much worse, is it really a great time to come out with this? Perhaps it is - Wimbledon's almost over, there's no major football tournament for European nations this year, Royal Ascot is done and dusted so maybe it was the best time to sneak it in. They'll be hoping it disappears into the dust by the time their next big football season campaign comes along....

Company figures are published next week I hear - profits are obviously stagnating so they are desperate to show the stock market they have other options to raise revenue.

The stock market liked the announcement today, climbing back towards 800p, or was that just a positive reaction to the news David Yu is finally on the way out?

Monday, 27 June 2011

Centre Court, here I come!

Off to the tennis today, got Centre Court tickets via the ballot for the best day of action at any Grand Slam tournament. You will find my preview of all today's action linked below....


Wimbledon action aplenty



Sunday, 26 June 2011

back in action this week

I'm back after a refreshing break away after Royal Ascot, normal service will resume shortly.....

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Royal Ascot Saturday

Unlikely to have time to do any form today, focusing on the Wimbledon previews instead. Having a 2yo race 'for progeny of stallions who have won over at least 1m2f' to open the day doesn't inspire betting - why not just say 'for horses bound to end up jumping'? Crap race to include in a what is generally a fantastic week of racing.

Rain and the vagaries of the track make it prudent to bet late as the day unravels.

In the Golden Jubilee, I'll be looking at Hooray and Amico Fritz. As a son of Aussie super sire Redoute's Choice, I like Elzaam, but it has Richard Hills aboard. Might as well just add another 10lbs to its weight!

Hope Anne of Kiev goes well for Jeremy Gask in the Wokingham. The only mare in the race, she's a quality sprinter but this is tough.

Who knows in the last two races - don't rule out Life And Soul in the Duke of Edinburgh.

Friday, 17 June 2011

Royal Ascot - Friday

Got killed by the rain yesterday, changed plans considerably and consequently had a poor day. Ignored all the hype about Brown Panther which turned out to be more than justified. He looks a very good type!

Today is tough once again, but that's the beauty of the Royal meeting....

ALBANY STAKES

With Judy The Beauty out, the clear favourite is Teolane. She has won her last two starts well in Ireland but I'm not convinced of her brilliance. Prepared to take her on at the price.

The one I was most impressed with off the tapes was Inetrobil. Really nice turn of foot in a weak Redcar maiden. Highclere Thoroughbreds recognised the potential and bought into a share soon after. Ryan 2yos going well and Makin delivered a winner yesterday.

Hidden Passion might go around at a big price. She was heavily backed on debut but didn't get out of the gates, and then ran on well at Haydock next time. Could be more to come from her. (NON-RUNNER)

Ilaunglauss beat rubbish on debut at Lingfield, big step up here but in good hands.

Lily's Angel has been the best of the Dark Angel progeny so far and went close to Dozy in the Hilary Needler. If you forgive Dozy a little for missing the start on Wednesday, then she's right in this.

Sajwah won well on debut but has R.Hills aboard - instant black mark.

Switcher is a half-sister to Marine Boy who looked a superstar on debut, but then went backwards quickly. Won well on debut, but wasn't explosive.

Keen on Inetrobil but unsure about the ground. I think Bertolini's go ok on it but won't be going in hard. Hidden Passion to be included in the exotics (nope, it's not running now!).


KING EDWARD VII STAKES

Love this race, reckon it's a better field than the Derby - zero no-hopers, everything has a chance, plus it's not on the awful downhill switchback course in the hills!

Nathaniel is the obvious favourite - he has come closer to Frankel (beaten half a length on debut) than any other horse. Big strider, not suited by Chester last start, absolute blue blood on breeding. But - four starts, three seconds - can you really lump on with confidence?

World Domination - high in the market because of the Cecil factor. Well beaten in the Dante when favoured to run well, although the strenth of that form was franked yesterday by Pisco Sour. More experience, more distance to suit, but can't be on him against such a decent field.

Mijhaar - beaten on 2yo debut by Fulgur, then re-emerged this season by absolutely smashing a field at Haydock. Placegetters in that race have since won, backing up the form. Looked a bit green but also untapped. Should handle the ground without any concerns.

Glen's Diamond - won well at Chester and Richard Fahey rates this as his best chance for the week. As a gelding, he hasn't been allowed to run in the classics (stupid rule IMO, as outdated as not letting divorcees into the Royal Enclosure, which was rescinded in 1955) so it's hard to line up the form. Has won his last four,trainer says extra distance will suit - I just don't know.

Genius Beast - impressed by this one at Sandown, though he might have had a chance in the Derby. Since disappointed at Longchamp in a small field, perhaps forgiveable although the RP Trading Post column has made him the lay of the day, for a place.

Fiorente - really impressed with the way he kicked clear at Newbury last start. Distance and rain can only help him.

Fulgur - like the breeding of this chap, a High Chaparral, whose progeny are flying in Aus. Beat Mijhaar in October, wet ground will suit as will stepping up in trip. Pricewise has taken the price though!

Dordogne - liked him earlier in the season but had a shocker at Sandown, probably due to damp ground. If that was the reason, then chances here have to be slim.

Alexander Pope - only Ballydoyle runner, always a chance in these races no matter who they turn up with, but surely improvement is needed to be up to his rivals, and that's without allowing for their improvement.

Glencadam Gold - decent win last time over this distance, not sure that class is up to these, but trained by Sir Henry Cecil, can't rule out completely.

Tough, tough race and won't play my hand until quite late I think because of the weather. Would rank them Mijhaar, Fiorente, Nathaniel, Fulgur, Genius Beast, Glen's Diamond, World Domination at this stage. Probably going with the front two in that, maybe even look at opposing World Domination in the plaec market.


CORONATION STAKES

This is tough and we don't know what the weather is going to do in the next three hours.

Have always liked Memory (backed her here last year) but now she comes with a major query as to whether she feels like jumping from the gates. If you want to back her - do it in-running, the price will be shorter, but at least you'll know... Hannon not keen on the rain for her.

The French horses Immortal Verse and Nova Hawk are very interesting in the wet. This race is on the round mile course, and the track is softer around the back. Both have won in the wet and have shown they are in the mix for a race like this.

More Than Real won the Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf on a firm track, beating Together. US horses rarely see wet turf tracks - because they race so regularly at a circuit (several times per week for several months), they don't risk damaging the ground as their turf courses are very narrow - so as soon as it rains, they move them onto the dirt. Hence most US horses won't have wet track form. We are guessing but she is definitely a G1 filly. Pletcher has stated her preparation hasn't been ideal but no comment on handling the wet.

Theysken's Theory is the main danger to the favourite, she has won on the soft. Won easily last start in a Listed race at York.

Together is the form runner, bridesmaid in both the English and Irish 1000 Guineas, and ran a close 2nd to White Moonstone in a G1 here on good-soft last September. Hasn't won over the mile yet (three placings from four attempts - BC Juv Turf 5th was the other). Certainty for a place at least. Can't imagine gate 13 will be a concern if the rain has gotten further into the track.

Might play exotics around Together running a place, several winning chances.


WOLFERTON HANDICAP

Every man and his dog is tipping Green Destiny here. Scratched earlier in the week wanting a softer surface, he's got it today. Curious to see that he will start shorter here than in any of his three latest wins, and this is his biggest test. Not sure they know just how good he is.

The stablemate Shamali has a record of two wins and a second from three Ascot runs (his best turf runs), and has the services of Ryan Moore on top. Might be worth a place-weighted EW bet.

Otherwise staying out of this one.


QUEEN'S VASE

Not overly keen on this one, a lot of unknowns with distance and weather.

Regent Street is favourite but wasn't he a pacemaker for Recital recently? Can't be backing him as favourite.

Solar Sky was lucky to beat Sunday Bess at Haydock when he started at 2/13. Bred to stay all day but can't have him with any confidence either.

Mark Johnston is mob-handed with Eternal Heart, Halifax and Namibian - is it possible to pick between them? The market is struggling to.

Borug hasn't done a lot as yet, but is bred to stay and has the services of Mickael Barzalona aboard - he has to win a race here this week surely?

A couple of Encosta de Lagos in the race too which is a little surprising - he was a miler and his Aussie progeny have followed those traits. Perhaps they're stoutly bred on the dam side.

The one I like a bit in this is Ittirad. Well bred, upward curve, I rate the stable highly, worth a bet eachway.


BUCKINGHAM PALACE STAKES

Not a clue.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Royal Ascot form - Thursday

Fantastic results on Wednesday with winners in the opening two races at 11/1 SP, with better prices available earlier or on Betfair. But absolutely gutted that So You Think was beaten, without even a penny on him. Awful tactics from Aiden O'Brien, employing a completely unnecessary pacemaker who then went too hard, got So You Think fired up and went for home on the turn. Backmakers need pacemakers, horses who sit up on the pace don't. I hate the concept of pacemakers with a passion, being able to determine the pace of a race sorts out the great jockeys from the good ones. There's nothing wrong at all with a horse like Dancing Rain winning the Oaks because her jockey did his homework and controlled the race from the front. Pacemakers do more harm than good. A great horse that needs everything served up on a plate for it isn't truly great....


NORFOLK STAKES

Tough race here, big field of 2yos with plenty of scope for improvement.

Bapak Chinta - won very easily at Hamilton, defeating Fredrick Engels who won here on Tuesday. Started odds-on that day and smashed the field of four. Kevin Ryan is very good with 2yos but I wasn't impressed with Phillip Makin's ride on Dozy today. There's a big gap between him and some of his rival jockeys. Can't be supporting him as favourite in a Royal Ascot race.

Everyday Dave - American flying machine, but the visitors from the States haven't been performing this week, so can't support this one at the price.

Crown Dependency - won very easily on debut at Goodwood, has the lethal Hannon and Hughes combination behind him. Must go close.

Pyman's Theory - won impressively at Sandown last start, defeating Bannock. Named after Racing Post expert James Pyman's theory about Exceed and Excel progeny performing better at Ascot. Here's her chance to prove it!

Silverheels - the oldest horse in the field, being a January foal. Brilliant win on debut back in April, hasn't raced since. Booking of Ryan Moore should be a plus but he's not at the top of my jocks list after today's effort on SYT!

Sans Loi - destroyed a field at Nottingham on debut last week. Standard of his opposition was weak, but did it very easily. Could be a silly price.

There are a few others in contention who ran on Tuesday, no idea if they will back up or not. It's the last four horses above I've named I'll be looking at most closely and linking up in the exotics.


RIBBLESDALE STAKES

Not getting far on replay form tonight, but don't let Dorcas Lane get under your guard.

(Midday update - Bert Black is hopeful about Sunday Bess in this race. She'll improve with a visor on first time, but still think she has a lot to find. Good luck with her Bert!)


GOLD CUP

Fame and Glory goes around quite short in this but Holberg's record on firm tracks is very strong. Plus he won the Queen's Vase here two seasons ago. 8/1 each-way is a great deal, Hills are paying 1/3 1,2,3 as well.

(Midday update - not so keen on Holberg now, reckon this rain reduces his chances. Makes it very tough now)


BRITANNIA STAKES

Trying to avoid the handicaps but did read somewhere the other day Capaill Laith has been laid out for this by Michael Bell, and I did rate him as a 2yo. Worth a nibble at 40s.


TERCENTENARY STAKES

Will put more work into this race tomorrow, but I'll be closely watching Alkimos.


KING GEORGE V STAKES

Too hard, will pass.



Good luck!

Royal Ascot form - Wednesday

A nice start to the week with Sweet Sanette running well for a gallant third at 16/1. Had the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th horses for the trifecta which paid a few grand, unfortunately Prohibit spoiled the party!

JERSEY STAKES

Tricky race this. The favourite Codemaster is very good, if not a little green still. Definitely enjoyed the step up to 7f last start, but does wobble around a bit.

Fury drops back in trip after the Guineas and a run at Sandown where they walked for much of the race. Would rather be against him at the price.

Havane Smoker ran 2nd in the French 2000 Guineas but had every chance in that race. Does now have Soumillon aboard though.

Oracle has the AOB/Ryan Moore combination behind him. Ran 3rd in the Irish 2000 Guineas, was 25/1 that day and beat the fourth horse clearly. But he has won one race from nine starts, and funnily enough, his last race was his first in Group company. AOB may have finally found the key to him, but not for mine.

Western Aristocrat - very impressive on the videos in lesser races, travels really well so he might be a back-to-lay proposition. Win wouldn't surprise but I don't think he's quite up to some of these yet.

Strong Suit - was a very good 2yo last season and has had a wind operation since being beaten out of sight by Frankel in the Greenham. Double figure odds for a very good horse if he can return to his peak.

Splash Point - UAE Guineas winner at Meydan, flopped in the Derby there, freshened up, drops back in distance. 40 on Betfair underestimates him.

Majestic Myles - great last couple of runs at Newmarket and Haydock, not convinced though that he needs to step up another furlong. Tough as nails though, huge price for gun trainer/jockey combination.


Will be backing Strong Suit at the price, throwing in the favourite at the head of trifectas, then making sure Splash Point and Majestic Myles are included in the placings for the tri, leaving out a few at the top of the market.


WINDSOR FOREST STAKES

Some big spruiks out there for I'm A Dreamer but....

6 starts for 4 wins. Guess where her two defeats have been?

Lolly for Dolly has run second at her latest two starts on hard tracks, with all four of her wins being on softer ground. Watch out for the rain...


PRINCE OF WALES' STAKES

Only one horse in this - the Australasian superstar So You Think.


ROYAL HUNT CUP

Not touching the handicaps.


QUEEN MARY

Shumoos will come up short, was very impressive on debut but will find this harder.

Fire Lily has a formline through Tuesday's 2yo winner Power, while the American horses didn't do a lot on day 1 - Gypsy Robin may be better than them.

The one I give a decent chance to at odds is Dozy. Kevin Ryan knows his 2yos better than all but a couple of stables and she was impressive last start at Beverley.


SANDRINGHAM

Handicap, pass.

Monday, 13 June 2011

Royal Ascot form - Tuesday

Take this with a grain of salt as I've had a few shockers with my last big UK racedays (with mates at Cheltenham and Epsom), but hopefully there'll be some info in here worth noting.

QUEEN ANNE STAKES

Great match race between Canford Cliffs and Goldikova, don't see anyone else upstaging them. Goldikova has been there done that so many times, why would you oppose her? 13 Group 1s amongst her 16 wins - wow. The formline behind her was backed up today with Cirrus Des Aigles winning a G3 at Longchamp, beating Stacelita. Canford Cliffs is damn good though. Will sit back and watch.

KING'S STAND STAKES

Have been surprised how short Star Witness has traded over the past week or so - I just don't think he's that great. He won his first three starts, including the Blue Diamond, Melbourne's biggest 2yo race, but his only win since (in seven starts) was the Coolmore Stakes at Flemington last October. It was a G1 but I'm not that convinced how strong it was. 4/1 is unders for me.

Working down the market - the trainer of Sole Power is worried about how soft the track is

Kingsgate Native has been here before and come up short - has been unplaced at his last seven G1 starts.

Overdose is the Budapest Bullet who flopped at his first run in the UK, complaining that Haydock was like concrete. He'll get some cut in the ground tomorrow.

Bridgetown is getting plenty of love from folks who follow American racing. Ran 54.03 for 5f at Gulfstream in March, darn quick but don't know how that compares with regular times there, or if the track is sloped etc. Will go like the clappers, is drawn the middle of the track.

Prohibit - best win of his seven has been a Listed race. Will run a good, honest race but can't see him stepping up.

Astrophysical Jet - impressive last year, could be good enough to win this if she kept improving at the rate she did last season. Found track too hard at Newmarket on her return - EDIT reason given for Newmarket failure was a virus.

War Artist - 8yo who equalled the best run of his career in Dubai last start, beaten a head by JJ The Jet Plane who would start a clear favourite in this race. If in the same form, he'll be close but probably just a length or two short of winning.

Sweet Sanette - the flying female from Hong Kong. Brilliant record over 1000m (8 wins, 2 seconds). Beat Sacred Kingdom last start (with 16lb advantage) but had been within a length of him at two previous starts at set weights. Loves a straight track, and is drawn next to Bridgetown so should get a gun run.

Tangerine Trees - great win at Newmarket beating several of these rivalsthen failed at Haydock, perhaps due to hardness of the track like Overdose?

Keen on Sweet Sanette each-way, and will be including Tangerine Trees in the exotics.

ST JAMES' PALACE STAKES

How do they beat the superstar Frankel? Was the Guineas win a revelation or just his true form? Sir Henry Cecil has said they'll try to run him a little more restrained this time - will Tom Queally be able to restrain him? He should win and win well, but believe it or not, I had a dream last week he got rolled - but I don't know who by!

I always like Japanese horses abroad and Grand Prix Boss will be a great price each-way here. Excelebration was outstanding in the German Guineas apparently and Dream Ahead shared top 2yo rating with Frankel last season. Don't forget Dubawi Gold beat everything but Frankel in the 2000 Guineas and Wootton Bassett has never lost in the UK.

Smaller field than the 2000 Guineas but probably hotter opposition. I'll lay Frankel if he ets too short, otherwise just back Grand Prix Boss each-way.

COVENTRY STAKES

Very tough but impressed with Trumpet Major in his two starts. Unlucky on debut, got crowded up for a long way before being beaten a nose and short head. Absolutely pissed in at Goodwood. Gatepost looked a bit green with more improvement to come at York, and who knows how good Italo could be? Will oppose Mezmaar as I just don't rate Richard Hills as a jockey.

ASCOT STAKES

I'm making a concerted effort to stay out of the handicaps this week.

WINDSOR CASTLE STAKES

Not sure I'll get time to do all the tapes for this one, so important to watch the replays with 2yo races. No idea at this stage....

Friday, 10 June 2011

tennis rort exposed on Challenger Tour

With thanks to ShankTennis for this article.....

The Romanian media picked this one up last week - an attempted sting at the Rijeka challenger event, but with plenty of matches involved.

Today, the company Advanced Betting System, Super Bet operator, was the victim of massive fraud attempts through the rigging of matches at the Challenger tournament in Rijeka (Croatia). Here are the details of this unpleasant event.

It goes on to claim the following:

A series of identical 12-leg parlays were placed at Super Bet outlets in Bucharest and Drobetu Turnu Severin.
The amount wagered was on each parlay was €1000, with a potential pay-out of €147, 000 on each.
Of the twelve legs, eleven were Challenger tennis matches with ten of those from Rijeka.
Of the tennis bets, all players either won in straight sets or lost via retirement (thus voiding those legs of the parlay).



It could be classed as an attempt to fix a series of matches, or alternatively, one big punter really having a big bet, but spreading out his wager across several tickets because of limits placed upon him or all tickets in general in Romania. I tend to think it's probably one or a few big punters using a bit of information, perhaps someone at the event, noticing a few players were enjoying the nightlife or not 100% fit and coupling them all up for a rather big wager. After all, it doesn't make any sense for an attempt to fix matches to only be punted with one betting outlet - there are enough around these days betting on challengers to get a few bets on.

But that could just be an opinion from someone who wants to see tennis be as clean as possible. Certainly having a couple of matches which involved retirements raises suspicions but it's not concrete evidence of a fix. A punter/syndicate behind a sting of this level cannot hope to have EVERY match under control, but he certainly wager with confidence if he had a few players in his pocket and was getting 147/1 for what he considered to be a 20/1 shot.


And if you want to read some comical responses from people who don't have the slightest idea how the betting industry works, this thread is worth reading.

Greek licensing plan is just a tad ambitious

The basket case of the EU, Greece, has decided to move with the times and licence other gambling operators in the country in order to clear some of its monumental debts. Greeks are renowned for their love of betting but they've mostly had to do it through the local monopoly charging extortionate margins. But the government's attempt at coming up with a licensing regime is very ambitious in terms of the revenue it will bring in, and flawed in terms of how its regulations fit with EU law. Not only have they tried to block betting exchanges, but some of their other plans are just a wee bit extreme...

Betfair files complaint with EC over Greek draft law

Betfair has filed a complaint with the European Commission over the ban on betting exchanges contained within the Greek draft egaming law.

Martin Cruddace, Betfair’s chief legal and regulatory officer, said: “Having played a constructive role in the preparatory phase of the draft Greek gaming law, we were disappointed with the inclusion of elements within it which unfairly discriminate against Betfair and are clearly incompatible with EU law.

“We have therefore asked the Commission to review the matter and engage with the Greek authorities, with the aim of addressing the concerns raised in our complaint."

In addition to challenging the blanket ban on betting exchanges, Betfair is seeking to address several other components within the draft law which it argues are in breach of EU law. These include the obligation to establish a Greek legal entity, locate servers and process gambling transactions exclusively within Greece, and also the requirement for online customers to obtain a special players ID card.

..
..

The Greek government originally presented its bill aimed at raising around €700m this year from the issue of 15-55 new licences to its parliament in March, by which time it had undergone several important changes since appearing in its initial form in January. These included the dropping a proposed “black period”, requiring applicant operators to cease activity in the market until licensed, and opting for a 30% gross profit tax (GPT) instead of the 6% turnover levy originally proposed.



Up to 55 new licences with a 30% GPT to deliver them €700m within a year? Dreamin'!

Thursday, 9 June 2011

How many fuckups is Paul Roy entitled to?

I'm sick of this bullshit of the 'age of forgiveness'. Not that long ago, people had honour - when they laid their cards on the table and screwed up royally, they packed their bags and left. These days it's like the Aussie cricket team - harder to leave than it is to get in, no matter how shit you are at what you do. Ricky Ponting was allowed to lose the Ashes three times before being forced to walk the plank as captain. If you can bullshit with the best of them, you've got a job for life apparently.

BHA Chief Exec Paul Roy has made at least three absolute blunders whilst at the helm which should have sent him to the dole queue a long time ago. But it seems he is impossible to sack and won't walk because he has less class than a Premier League footballer with a superinjunction.

Blunder 1 - in his other role as big cheese of an investment firm, he recommended buying a big chunk of shares in Betfair.

The fact he didn't notice they were massively overvalued is bad enough but the conflict of interest with his role at the BHA was extraordinary considering he is always at loggerheads with the exchange and bookmakers. A politician wouldn't be allowed to get away with that, why did Roy escape the noose?

Blunder 2 - being part of the BHA team who publicly declared that the Sir Martin Broughton-led syndicate, SIP, was the best fit for racing and the only possible winner in the Tote bidding process.

No independence, no keeping at arm's length until the Govt had made their decision, just blurting out their allegiance with blatant disregard for process or fairness. Betfair had the sense to stop Andrew 'Bert' Black from answering media questions when he answered 'Ooh, that looks a bit dodgy doesn't it?' to allegations a race was fixed back in the early days - you'd think an organisation like the BHA would have some idea how to manage media and industry relations by now. And for someone so well connected in the financial world, you'd have thought he'd check the sums all added up. Sports Investment Partners was a bid from an ex-BHB chairman with senior executives coming from bookmaking backgrounds - apparently the very thing they wanted to avoid with Fred Done.

Blunder 3 - the daddy of them all. Once again, this muppet has wasted racing industry money on investigating whether winning Betfair users should be taxed/forced to pay levy.

Amazingly, the legal verdict from EVERY OTHER legal advisor bar his own was that they were wasting their time yet again. I can make a profit via William Hill, Ladbrokes, the Tote, BetFred (if they bothered to pay out) or any combination of firms in a variety of bets which form exactly the same function as laying on Betfair. A professional backer pays no levy to the industry, why should anyone else who does not stand on course, set their own payout terms and hold punters' money? This argument from the top of the racing industry has been tried again and again, there was absolutely no reason to think anything would change. No legal precedent elsewhere, no legislative change, no EU directive, nada. So the BHA has pissed another couple of million up the wall which should have gone to prizemoney, facilities, improved stewarding, better data such as sectional timing.... but instead it went to scratch this fool's ego. If it really was a board decision, then the rest of the incompetent fools should go to. WAKE UP, IT IS 2011, NOT 1962!!!

In Thursday's Racing Post, Roy defiantly says he has a job to do and will continue to do so. Meanwhile racing continues to flounder because the industry is being run like an old boys' club rather than an industry worth billions. Great leaders say 'the buck stops here', they hold their hand up and admit they screwed up, they fall on their sword when the blunder has been huge. They inspire the people around them to improve and put the cause far and above their personal vendettas and egos.... racing is in desperate need for a great leader.

media and politicians love a beat-up

After a few attempted rorts in rugby league and a few plunges based on leaked team information, the major Australian sports, backed by a few clueless politicians and media desperate for a story, have proposed clampdowns on exotic bet types. Now we all hate match-fixing in sport, don't get me wrong there, but invariably these shenanigans are restricted to betting via illegal bookies, where there is no audit trail for investigators to pick up.

Legal betting outlets don't drop the ball very often. At the first sign of suspicious betting, alarm bells go off and word spreads like wildfire. The accounts in question are marked forever and the total exposure involved is usually only a few grand - less than they'll get out of the PR value of the ensuing story!


Andrew Twaits says tighter controls on online poker is necessary

*snipped*

Sportingbet Australia chief executive, Michael Sullivan, called yesterday on professional sports under the Coalition of Major Professional and Participation Sports umbrella to employ full-time supervisors to scrutinise betting trends. The AFL employs an integrity officer.

The coalition represents the AFL, ARU, NRL, Cricket Australia, FFA, Netball and Tennis.

"The NRL could take a leaf out of the AFL's book on this issue. They seem to be dragging the chain a little," Sullivan told The Australian.

"We've seen on the issue arising from the North Queensland investigation that the checks and balances we as an industry already have in place actually do work.

"As for the NRL asking for an industry-wide ban on exotic bets, that's fine, but our figures show that the average bet on the first and last tryscorer is just $9.

"That wouldn't buy you a schooner of beer in some pubs in Fremantle.

"Betting on cricket matches in this country isn't a problem. The trouble starts with the sheer weight of money bet on games in India and Pakistan where the industry is either illegal or nowhere near as regulated as you find it here in Australia.

"All we are asking for as a collective is a level playing field."



Common sense from Michael Sullivan there, however we are talking about Australia here, where the fun police think having a beachball or a trumpet at the cricket should get you kicked out of the ground and heaven help you if you wanted a full-strength beer at an evening sporting event.

Spot-fixing is very different to match-fixing from a legal viewpoint and the attitude of individuals towards it. The penalty for paying players to fix a match result (potentially 10yrs in gaol if Australian legislation goes ahead) does not correlate with encouraging everyone to throw the ball to the winger so he can score the first try for a few grand in the end-of-season trip fund.

Online betting firms have the audit trail required to track all the bets - most of the suspicious bets placed in the rugby league attempted stings have been in cash at TAB outlets. Sort that issue out and much of the problem disappears....

Extrabet not worth tuppence

No surprise to learn today that IG Index are writing off the value of Extrabet and starting on redundancy deals for their staff. As predicted here 10 months ago, the £20m they were hoping for was simply ridiculous.

£7.75m being written off including that highly measurable asset 'goodwill'. No loss to the industry at all, very few people will even notice they are gone.

Friday, 3 June 2011

Fred wins the Tote sale

It wasn't much of a secret after rumours broke last night but BetFred have today been named as the successful bidder for the UK Tote. Traditionalists will have a bit of a moan but one bid was based on cold, hard cash; the other was based on a lot of hope which ultimately could have seen racing sink even further into the mire. It still puzzles me why people were so wholeheartedly in favour of a bid team which included the likes of Chris 'one race is fixed in Britain every day' Bell who had no problem with his former firm Ladbrokes operating its phone and online operations offshore to dodge tax and levy. Fred's no saint but he has to be admired for the empire he has built.

Betfred named new owners of the Tote

BOOKMAKERS Betfred have won the race to buy the Tote and on Friday morning signed a contract with the government to buy the state-owned betting operator for a total of £265 million.

Net proceeds will be £180m, which will be split 50-50 between the government and racing.

Betfred, led by executive chairman Fred Done, beat off competition from former BHB chairman Sir Martin Broughton's Sports Investment Partners (SIP).



There's a big lump sum of cash upfront for the industry, let's hope this time they spend it prudently rather than spending it all once leaving nothing behind when the economy slows again.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Match-fixing makes it into Korea

A source tipped me off about this several months ago. A major Asian betting monopoly would take certain Korean football matches off the board without making a big deal about them, knowing that they were likely to be fixed. Now the stories are breaking into the world press....


K-League's Pohang Steelers fire midfielder Kim amid widening match-fixing scandal


SEOUL, South Korea — The Pohang Steelers have fired midfielder Kim Jung-kyum for allegedly betting on one of his own games in a match-fixing scandal that is widening in South Korea.

The Yonhap news agency reported Thursday that the K-League club terminated Kim's contract because he allegedly bet on the outcome of one of the Steeler's matches two months ago.

Five players from different clubs have been arrested and charged with taking money from gambling brokers and allegedly making deliberate mistakes that led to their teams losing, according to domestic media.

Jeong Jong-kwan, a former K-League player, was found dead this week in an apparent suicide. He left a note claiming his involvement in match-fixing schemes, Yonhap reported.



The net widens. Again - the best way to prevent fraud is through regulation. When gambling is fully licensed and regulated with firms prepared to share betting details with sporting authorities, then there is a strong deterrent against fraudsters. When cash betting goes unmonitored via licensed and unlicensed firms, fixing a result is much easier to achieve....

Time for a new tack perhaps...

So once again England are ridiculed and isolated for making a stand against the self-righteous clowndom that is the Federation of International Football Associations. Pillars of the international anti-corruption community like Benin, Congo and Fiji yesterday stood up to reject the English FA's claims of corruption in FIFA. Of course, the representatives from these economic basket-case nations fly business class, live in mansions and drive Rolls-Royces because of their own individual business prowess rather than any untraceable cash which has fallen into their hands....



It's obvious continuing to complain and target FIFA with accusations and investigations isn't going to get anywhere. Blood is thicker than water, these guys work together to keep people they don't like on the outside and see themselves as above western ethical standards of business. So now it is time to try to a significantly different approach. Do things for the benefit of the sport, regardless of whether FIFA endorse them or not, such as:

- Introduce goal-line technology

- Introduce video referees

- Introduce post-match video reviews of incidents, whether or not the referee has seen them and dealt with them, to deal with diving, vicious tackles, Rooney's elbows etc.

There are numerous stages on which these can be tested, it doesn't have to only be on the Premier League if the argument there is it will change the game too much. After all there is no let-up from televised football in Britain, so just get on with it and leave FIFA to keep fannying about it and patting their own backs about how good a job they are doing.

Finger pointing will keep England on the outer for a long time to come, so what exactly have England got to lose anyway?

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Serie A rife with match-fixing and FIFA is still bent

Nothing new here, but glad to see the Italians are actually doing something about it!


Ex-Italy striker arrested for match-fixing


ROME (AFP) - Former Italy striker Giuseppe Signori was among 16 people arrested for match-fixing in a co-ordinated sting by Italian police on Wednesday.

Amongst those targeted were ex Serie A players and current players from both Serie B and Serie C as well as club directors from the lower leagues, all suspected of being part of an organisation that rigged games to fix bets.


Perhaps the tide will turn in Italy and this stuff might start disappearing, but I reckon we are still a long way from that. It's a cultural thing, just like the endemic levels of corruption within FIFA. It is an old boys' club where everything is about greasing palms.

Football is a dirty game run by dirty people. Its simplicity leads to its popularity and its popularity reels in the dodgy characters plaguing the game. The more we realise it is just one sport, rather than the only sport in existence, the better...