The 200% Podcast 13: FOUL!
The Power Of Discretion And Why Guidelines Are… King
Steven Gerrard, The Media & Liverpool’s Structural Issues
The Twohundredpercent Podcast LIVE!
Where, Exactly, Do Queens Park Rangers Go From Here?
End Of Season Ennui
The 200% Podcast 12 – General Election Special
Saturday Night On Channel Five For The Football League
The Decline & Fall Of Leyton Orient
Rape, Disrespect & Fury: The Oyston Family & Blackpool FC
Is It Time For A New Football Club For Newcastle?
Tranmere Rovers & Cheltenham Town Stare Into The Abyss
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 Williams and Peter Cavanagh of Accrington Stanley, along with Andrew Mangan of Bury) would seem to indicate that the FA have spent a considerable amount of time researching these charges. None of this bodes well for any of the above.
What we have here is the potential for the biggest betting scandal in English football since the 1960s. In 1964, eight players (including Peter Swan, who was on the brink of inclusion in the England squad at the time) were jailed for their involvement in a betting ring throughout the Football League during the early 1960s. Swan’s involvement – along with fellow Wednesday players David Layne and Tony Kay – was betting against his own team in an end of season match against Ipswich Town. Each were also given lifetime bans from any involvement in football (which were later commuted) and, to this day, their names are synonymous with the notion of match-fixing in English football.
The amounts of money concerned range from the significant to the almost laughable. At one end of the scale, Mannix is said to have bet £4,000 on a Bury win whilst, at the other, Cavanagh had his team’s defeat as part of a £5 accumulator. Whether, if found guilty, the FA will choose to take the same action against all five players is open to conjecture. If found guilty, the players will almost certainly never play football again. They may also be open to criminal prosecution. The players imprisoned at the end of the 1964 scandal were convicted of conspiracy to defraud, and this particular charge gives the Crown Prosecution Service a choice of whether to charge statutory or common law conspiracy. Conspiracy to defraud is, according to the Privy Council (1961) “not limited to the idea of economic loss, nor the idea of depriving someone of something of value. It extends generally to the purpose of the fraud and deceit… If anyone may be prejudiced in any way by the fraud, that is enough”.
So far, the clubs concerned have kept quiet regarding these allegations. Supporters hoping that a points deduction may be imposed will probably be disappointed. None of the clubs involved in the 1964 scandal were found to be at fault in anyway and there is no suggestion that Accrington Stanley or Bury have done anything wrong in this case. This is a matter of the conduct of five individuals who, if found guilty of that of which they stand accused, will have heaped embarrassment on the game as well as ruining their own futures within it. The supporters of the clubs concerned are the biggest losers here, as ever. Regardless of the result of the investigation, we should be cheered by the fact that these allegations are being taken so seriously.
Ian began writing Twohundredpercent in May 2006. He lives in Brighton. He has also written for, amongst others, Pitch Invasion, FC Business Magazine, The Score, When Saturday Comes, Stand Against Modern Football and The Football Supporter. Ian was the first winner of the Socrates Award For Not Being Dead Yet at the 2010 NOPA awards for football bloggers.
I was actually quite impressed with the authorities for once (never thought I’d say that!). It seems that an early warning system meant that they had been informed by the bookies before the match was even played and were therefore able to send an observer to the match. Surprised that it has taken so long to come to chares being made though.
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.
Football on the whole has an amazing ability to forget its past. If we want to look at a major scandal and match fixing we can find it in teams of equal size to Manchester United and Liverpool in the likes of AC Milan and Juventus in 2006 and while that is not British it is proof that the assumption that all is well until proven otherwise is legally accurate but leaves the game open to suspicion.
Football is a public trust and as such it is not only required for the playing field to be level but for it to be seen to be level. I personally believe I’ve watched fixed matches in the last few years but the FA and FL keep investigations into such games cloaked rather than allowing for exhortation which is legally fine but undermines football’s trust.
Also undermining football’s trust is the fact that out top teams will suffer the likes of Juventus and Milan on the Gx Football group rather than shunning them.