Day: April 7, 2009

Accrington, Bury & The Spectre Of Match-Fixing

Sometimes, what happens in football matches seems so bizarre that one can only assume that either a higher force or the sleight of hand of match-fixing has been involved. How did both Liverpool and Manchester United score last minute winning goals on the same weekend? The truth, of course, is that they both simply wore down their opposition. There were no dark arts at work. For scandals concerning match-fixing, we have to look further down the divisions, where less people are likely to notice. In this respect, the news that the FA have suspended five players for betting on the result of a League Two match between Accrington Stanley and Bury last May should come as little surprise. If anything, we should be surprised that it doesn’t happen more than it does. It was common knowledge in the north-west of England that something wasn’t “right” about this match. An end of season match between two sides with very little to play for was reporting extremely high levels of betting, leading to a bookmakers reporting it to the FA and suspending betting on the match. Bury won the match 2-0, following the pattern of the betting, and the fact that it has taken until now for the charges to be brought and the fact that the five players charged have all been named (they are Jay Harris, David Mannix, Robert...

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Southampton, Insolvency & Bending The Rules

This season, it is probably fair to say, has not been the best of football seasons. Portsmouth are hanging on to their Premier League status and Brighton & Hove Albion seem likely to fall through the relegation trapdoor from League One. Meanwhile, AFC Bournemouth have somehow managed to pull clear of the League Two relegation places after the Football League docked them seventeen points at the start of the season (though they’re far from safe just yet), Lewes spent what seems likely to be their only ever season in the Blue Square Premier anchored to the bottom of the table and fighting against having to enter into administration and Weymouth found themselves close to closure, and not for the first time in the last two or three years. Bottom of the pile, however, even from this sorry lot, are Southampton. The Saints’ decline has been a rapid and largely unexpected one. Those of us of a certain age will be able to recall their occasional finishes in the top six of the First Division during the early 1980s, and they continued to confound the odds (they finished in eighth place in the Premier League and got to the FA Cup final as recently as 2003) before finally getting relegated in bottom place in 2005. The key to their problem has been the St Marys Stadium. Southampton evacuated The Dell...

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