Tuesday, 31 January 2012

67 Zimbabwe football players suspended after match-fixing probe

Not sure the football world is really going to miss the 102nd-ranked team in the world being suspended. Have to have some sympathy for them, when you live in a country under a dictator like Mugabe, and almost certainly paid peanuts, what respect are you going to have for ethics? Last year I blogged about a report that Sepp Blatter and Robert Mugabe were supposedly lecturing local footballers about the evils of corruption.... pot - kettle - black!

Zimbabwe Football Players Suspended in Match Fixing Probe

The Zimbabwe Football Association has suspended at least 67 players, including most of the national team, after a probe into alleged match-fixing.

A number of Zimbabwe players told investigators they accepted money from an Asian betting syndicate to lose friendly matches during team trips to the Far East between 2007 and 2009.

Zimbabwe Football Association chief executive Jonathan Mashingaidze said all players implicated in the scandal cannot play in any national team matches until they are cleared by the association's ethics committee, which continues its investigation.

When a regular punter in a normal size bet could win more than these guys are collectively paid for a match, are we really surprised this happens?

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

tennis previews

In case you have been missing them, the places to go are

The TOTE
and
The Shark

My usual rants at the world of sports and betting probably won't resume until the Australian Open finishes...

Saturday, 21 January 2012

tennis trading podcast

Some of you might have seen this already via other blogs or my Twitter acct. During the week I was honoured to be the guest pundit on the X Traders weekly podcast with @mattfinnigan. Matt is a former disciple of the Betfair Academy who I trained way back in 2006/07. Since then he has set up his own trading club - the X Traders, covering a variety of sports. On their podcasts, they regularly bring in a guest to add a different perspective about various sports. Tennis being my forte, I was invited on during the Australian Open. Lots of topics discussed - mixture of punting and trading, something for everyone hopefully. It goes for just over an hour, so find some time to listen to it, or download the podcast onto your iPod/phone to listen to on the train or something.

The X-Traders Guide Weekly Podcast featuring Scott Ferguson talking tennis

We have received plenty of positive feedback about it already, so another edition is planned later in the year.

The links I mention during the show:

www.theshark.com.au and onlinebetting.thetote.com.au for my Aus Open previews

www.tennisform.com for injury & news service

www.oncourt.info for the database

www.tennisexplorer.com and www.tennisinsight.com for stats, odds and discussion.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Protectionist bollocks from the ATP

Slightly old news now, but I've just found the time to write properly about this. Reports in the press last week of spectators being ejected from the Auckland tournament for 'illegal' betting, which is simply protectionist propaganda from the ATP. There is no 'illegal' betting taking place here - New Zealand has bans on foreign betting firms advertising in NZ but they certainly don't prosecute users of Betfair or Bet365 for example. The courtsiders are simply taking advantage of being ahead of the broadcast back to Europe.

Tennis: Spot-betting spectators ejected

Two spectators have been kicked out of the Heineken Open in Auckland for illegal spot-betting.

Tournament director Richard Palmer confirmed one patron had been removed on Monday at the Heineken Open and another had been evicted during last week's ASB Classic for transmitting scoring information from the stands.

The spectators were spotted in the crowd allegedly using palm-type devices to bet on specific points.

The delay between what happens on court and when it's screened around the world enables people at the stadium to quickly get bets on before those outside know what's happened.

ATP tournament director Tom Barnes said the spectators who were evicted were known to them.

"It is a career opportunity to these people. They show up everywhere."

Mr Barnes said the pair were both using European betting sites.

"On some of these European betting sites, you can bet, for example, on a first serve whether a guy is going to make a fault or not. Somebody sitting in the stands with a cell phone can transmit this information to somebody in Europe and that somebody can bet that the first serve is a fault."

Another piece of utter crap from the ATP spokesman - 'you can bet on a fault'. No, you can't. Certain firms offer betting on each point, but they aren't gullible enough to offer it on the very next point - they know as well as everyone else that broadcast delays exist, so those prices are created for several points ahead, or the next (not current) game. The courtsiders are there to sweep prices, predominantly on Betfair - taking 1.6 before the market moves to 1.5 etc, on the case of a key point like a break point, significantly wider gaps. Then if they want, they can trade straight back and lock in a profit within seconds.

This is not illegal. It is taking advantage of other punters, but it has been going on so long, that anyone betting on tennis should be well aware of it anyway. Are the ATP (and WTA) trying to stop innocent punters from having their unmatched bets hoovered up by courtsiders? Not on your life. Their only interest here is protecting their new live data partners Enetpulse. The subscription price for bookmakers to take this service is massive, so obviously Enetpulse paid a premium for it and the tennis authorities want to protect that revenue stream. Any site not taking data from Enetpulse (or subsidiaries, sub-contracts etc) is supposed to be delayed by 30 seconds, or they are scraping from another site. The only way to get around this is via live pics, where a separate data stream isn't required.

Note, the Grand Slams are ITF events, and will not be covered by the above deal, so scores should be live, assuming the website is working at the optimum level.

Monday, 16 January 2012

more Aus Open content

More material I hope you'll enjoy reading:

Tournament preview at TheShark.com.au (note these previews are Betfair-oriented, so they will be slightly different to content written for TheTote.com.au)

It's Aussie Open time which means a plethora of betting and trading opportunities on Betfair.

Match betting is the obvious choice for quick investments, but betting in-running is tricky with the Federal online ban meaning you have to ring up to trade your position. The outright markets though aren't classed as in-play until the final, so you can trade a player's outright position right through the fortnight.

MEN'S DRAW

The men's tournament comes down to the big four vs the rest, so let's take a look at how we might trade them:

1. Djokovic
....
....
At the US Open last year, he was 1.53 against Federer in the semi, and 1.67 against Nadal in the final. Unless the draw collapses, he won't be a whole lot shorter here so if you want to back him, I don't see much point in doing before the second week. If you want to lay him, his price won't move much until the fourth round possibly against Raonic so there's no rush.

Read the full article here

And my Round 1 preview - five of the seven matches covered are still to play.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Australian Open previews

Just a few hours now until the Australian Open begins. My regular previews have been going since 2000, and have found a new home - this year I am writing for The TOTE and theshark.com.au.

Snippets from women's preview:

1. Wozniacki – will be a token no.1 until she breaks that Slam duck. Trying to bring more aggression into her game but still not a patch on the free-swingers like Serena or Kvitova. Had treatment on her left wrist in loss to close buddy A.Radwanska in Sydney, and that injury can be nasty if full blown, even if it only affects her on the backhand side. Draw says Jankovic R4, Clijsters/Li QF, Azarenka/Aggie Rad SF. Odds to win the title show just how much of a token no.1 she is.

2. Kvitova – exciting leftie who is seen as the heir to the no.1 mantle: she has already won a Slam and won the end-of-year WTA Championship. Looked in fine touch at the Hopman Cup, beating Wozniacki and Bartoli despite carrying a little extra condition. That works for her on the power game side but I’m a little concerned about it if Melbourne has a hot spell and she meets a couple of retrievers who won’t stop running. QF here last year, beaten by Zvonareva. Very nice draw – Stosur/Bartoli QF, perhaps Serena/Sharapova in the semi. Worthy favourite.

Read the complete article here

Snippets from men's preview:

There’s nothing like the Aussie Open on the tennis calendar. So early in the season that players are either still hurting from last season or they’ve been busting a gut at a boot camp during the northern winter. This event has a reputation for shock finalists (Clement, Schuettler, Baghdatis, Gonzalez, Tsonga since 2000 plus Tommy Johansson winning in 2002) but at the moment, the top four are almost impenetrable at the biggest events on the tour. Even Murray, supposedly the weaker of the quartet, reached the semis at all four Slam events last season. Let’s run down the field.

1.Djokovic – took the world before him last year, winning three of the four Slam events. Ended the season quite sore and tired, so whether he is in the shape of last January is contentious. Looked good in Abu Dhabi but hasn’t played an event since. Certainly a better player than back then, and he now carries the weight of heavy expectations. Value at 2.25? I doubt it but record in 2011 v Rafa 6-0, v Federer 5-1 (French Open), v Murray 2-1 (loss via retirement).

2.Nadal – injured here last year when losing in the QF to Ferrer. Ended 2011 with a Davis Cup win for Spain, just days after not caring at all at the Tour finale in London. Weird as it seems, he may be flying in under the radar here. If fit (always some concern over his knees and shoulder), he’s right in it. Has drawn the softest quarter, only Berdych to worry about before the semis. Should not be the outsider of the four.

Read the complete article here

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Centaur Group goes into administration

Last year I wrote with concern about the company setting up what may have been the world's first sports trading investment fund. Those doubts seem to have borne fruit as this week the company have gone into voluntary administration.

Here's the Betfair forum thread which includes details of the letter to clients.

Sounds like a contradictory mix of what they were trying to achieve, combined with high overheads. Why operate in a London office? Why try to train Betfair punters - I can tell you from experience that is very costly with limited return. And they came from a tipping background. Bad, bad mix. You trade or you punt. Mixing a punting mentality with highly-disciplined trading is extremely risky. A select bunch of individuals can do it. People hired off the street to make money for a fund are not going to manage it. And if you get too successful at it on Betfair, you attract the super Premium Charge. My guess is that the Premium Charge was the least of their problems...

Always feel sorry for the staff in circumstances like this, but having worked for a couple of firms who have gone under over the years - there are always signs of trouble.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Ladbrokes talking to Betdaq?

Curious one this - apparently it's only about technology sharing. Ladbrokes seemingly don't want to go down the same line as numerous other bookies to come up with an identical product bar the colour scheme. There's some logic in it - exchanges need to have an exceptionally quick bet-matching system, so anything that can help speed up a sportsbook's operation will have some value.

Ladbrokes in talks with billionaire Betdaq owner Dermot Desmond over 'technology' deal

Ladbrokes has started talks with Irish billionaire Dermot Desmond, the owner of the Betdaq betting exchange, over a "technology" deal to revamp the bookmaker's faltering online business.

In the latest attempt by Ladbrokes' embattled chief executive Richard Glynn to gee up its internet betting wing, the bookie is seeking to buy in pricing and trading skills of a peer-to-peer betting exchange – long seen as a main rival to traditional bookmakers.

Mr Desmond, who has a stake of about 2pc in Ladbrokes, set up Betdaq in 2000, though it has been dwarfed by larger rival Betfair.

Mr Glynn has already walked away from four online deals since taking over as chief executive in April 2010. He made highly public takeover approaches to 888 and Sportingbet before backing out, pulled out of the auction for Australia's Centrebet and had a flirtation with Playtech.

A Ladbrokes spokesman denied the bookie might also be interested in buying Betdaq, which is valued at more than £100m. "It's only a discussion about technology supply," he said. "Exchanges have good up-to-the-minute pricing technology."

He said any deal would come from £50m already set aside for investment in online gambling.

£100m price tag for Betdaq seems a little generous in the current climate. Pie in the sky stuff for them to link up with one of the big High St bookmakers, but just imagine if they did - access to a marketing budget and client base to die for. Might get Betfair thinking a bit at least....

Monday, 2 January 2012

how to waste money on the Olympics

I absolutely love the Olympics - it is the pinnacle of the sporting world. Naturally the London Games are going to cost more than any previous Olympiad - prices rise, London is one of the most expensive cities in the world and Britain support the US in its military campaigns thus the countries becomes a target for terrorism etc. The original budget from bid time has been blown out of the water, but revised versions seem to be on the right track. Recent added expenses have been even more security to appease the Yanks (if you want to protect your athletes even further Barack, feel free to pick up the bill) and even more on the bloody ceremonies.

Much has been invested in drawing additional tourists to Britain before, during and after the Games, and so should be the case. The non-sporting public have a right to benefit from the Games too, from the improvement of infrastructure to a sharp boost to the economy. But London is already known as one of the premier arts and theatre destinations in the world - so what benefit at all will spending £40 million more on the pointless opening ceremony bring? It can't increase ticket sales - applications for opening ceremony tickets were massively oversubscribed too.

The biggest false headline and waste of money going on at the moment is the fixation with keeping the Olympics free from match-fixing/sporting corruption. It is incredibly naive of officials to think that because they are hosting the biggest sporting extravaganza in the world, that people will suddenly want to bet on it. At a conservative guess, a standard Saturday football round will attract more betting interest than the whole fortnight of the Games. Very few Olympic sports have any history of betting - so if punters have no interest, then neither will be the bookies, specifically, the black market bookies who are the root of all this paranoia. In terms of betting, football is far and above the biggest betting sport at the Games. Beyond that, you have a bit of interest in basketball, followed by handball, with volleyball and water polo trailing a long way behind. Other sports have the very occasional availability for betting - athletics, swimming and cycling. I nearly forgot tennis, which has its own Integrity Unit anyway. Football has had issues at the Games before, most likely as a result of so many meaningless ranking matches at the end - but it is questionable whether it should even be at the Olympics in the first place. It is there to extend the global appeal to South America, who place huge emphasis on team sports, very little on the individual ones like athletics + I am, and many others are, firmly of the belief any sport which does not have the Olympics as the pinnacle of that sport should not be there. The hybrid selection of older players amongst a youth team doesn't really cut it now does it?

Is it cynical to suggest that the Olympics minister knows there is little hope of eradicating doping (the side of evil always has more money to play with, and if tests for new substances take days, weeks or months) then it's a far better idea to throw up a smokescreen and suggest that Britain/LOCOG are doing something right? If they are banking on Britain's great record in convicting match-fixers (eg Salman Butt & co), then perhaps they should remember it wasn't the ICC, Interpol or the Metropolitan Police who caught them red-handed, it was a now defunct newspaper!

Sunday, 1 January 2012

the shambles of Sports Alive continues to unravel

The only good thing to come out of this utter schemozzle is that laws should be tightened and hopefully enforced in future. But then again, that's what was supposed to happen with the banks....

Tote chief snubs $14m claim

The liquidator of failed sports betting company Sports Alive has demanded $14 million compensation from TOTE Tasmania chief executive Craig Coleman and Victorian directors.

In a letter early this month, liquidator Hamish MacKinnon demanded the money be paid by December 14.

It is understood Mr Coleman has refused to pay and the TOTE Tasmania board has refused to discuss the situation.

...
...

The letter alleged Mr Coleman had a conflict of interest in simultaneously being chairman of Sports Alive and chief executive of TOTE.

In a letter to all Sports Alive directors, Mr MacKinnon alleged: Sports Alive was trading while insolvent from June 2008, including the period under Mr Coleman's chairmanship. Sports Alive was in breach of the Race and Sports Betting Act by failing to keep punters' money separate from administrative funds. Directors had breached their duties and had failed to act in good faith in the best interests of the company.


For allowing this to go on for three years, the ACT Gaming and Racing Commission should be criminally liable... but they'll weasel out of it, like a typical pointless bureaucracy. Any other state or territory in Australia would have flagged this very early and barred them from trading while insolvent. No betting licence in the ACT is worth the paper it is written on anymore.

Friendlies and match-fixing are a match made in heaven

Another reason why international friendlies are probably more hassle than they are worth. Clubs hate them for the injury risk, fixers love them for the less than 100% attitude of players & officials. And fans are willing to believe most results as managers experiment with tactics and formations.

Kudos as always to the whistleblowers.

Hong Kong footballer sentenced over match-fixing bid

HONG KONG: A young Hong Kong footballer has been sent to a detention centre after admitting trying to bribe his teammates to throw an international friendly against Russia, court officials said.

A magistrate's court Friday ordered Iu Wai, a 20-year-old defender for Hong Kong's under-21 side, to be held at the detention centre after he pleaded guilty to two counts of bribery, a court spokeswoman said.

Under Hong Kong law, young offenders can be sent to a detention centre for between one and six months as an alternative to prison. The length of their sentence is determined during the course of their incarceration.

Iu promised two teammates -- a defender and a goalkeeper -- tens of thousands of Hong Kong dollars if they helped to deliberately lose a friendly against the Russian youth team.

The duo refused and reported him to the anti-corruption authorities, who staged an unprecedented raid during the November game while 5,000 spectators looked on. Iu was arrested later.