Match Fixing: Matthew Le Tissier Admitted Playing To Win A Bet
THERE has been alleged match-fixing in English football. Singapore national Chann Sankaran, 33, and Krishna Sanjey Ganeshan, 43, a UK national from Singapore, have been charged with conspiracy to “defraud bookmakers by influencing the course of football matches and placing bets thereon” between 1 November and 26 November this year.
The maximum sentence for this offence is 10 years in prison, the National Crime Agency said. Four other arrest have been made. They are three former lower-league footballers plus a former Premier League player who is now an agent. None have been charged.
Dan Roan, the BBC chief sports correspondent says “international betting syndicates – invariably Asian – often dispatch a fixer to search out semi-professional, non-league players in the lower tiers of English football who may be susceptible to bribes. The players, once identified, are then typically handed thousands of pounds in return for manipulating a game – from the number of goals scored to the number of yellow cards issued. For the fix to work, the syndicate tends to need more than one player to be in on the scam. The fixer, sat watching in the stands, then waits for the signal from their co-conspirator on their pitch. If the scam is to go ahead, the player on the syndicate’s payroll deliberately gets a yellow card at the start of the match. The fixer then calls his investors in Asia and tells them the fix is on. Bets are then placed.”
The sharks go where the wages are low and the cameras are missing, allegedly.
But can a football really be controlled so easily? Can a few players make such a difference in match that you’d stake thousands of pounds on it? Anyone who has ever seen non-League football might well laugh. It’s all very well agreeing to get a yellow card or concede a goal, but if your legs and brain are about as harmonious as Robert Shaw’s fingernails, it’s not an exact science., like squeezing the greyhounds private’s as it’s placed in the trap.
And w’eve heard similar news before, notable in Matthew Le Tissier’s autobiography Taking Le Tiss. Le Tissier recounts an episode when his Southampton were playing Wimbledon at Shellhurst Park on April 17, 1995:
Spread betting had just started to become popular. It was a new idea which allowed punters to back anything from the final score to the first throw-in. There was a lot of money to be made by exploiting it. We were safe from the threat of relegation when we went to Wimbledon on April 17 and, as it was a televised match, there was a wide range of bets available. Obviously I’d never have done anything that might have affected the outcome of the match, but I couldn’t see a problem with making a few quid on the time of the first throw-in. My team-mate had some friends with spread-betting accounts who laid some big bets for us. We stood to win well into four figures but if it went wrong we could have lost a lot of money…
The plan was for us to kick the ball straight into touch at the start of the game and then collect 56 times our stake. Easy money. It was set up nicely. The ball was to be rolled back to me and I would smash it into touch. It seemed to be going like clockwork. We kicked off, the ball was tapped to me and I went to hit it out towards Neil Shipperley on the left wing. As it was live on television I didn’t want to make it too obvious or end up looking like a prat for miscuing the ball so I tried to hit it just over his head. But with so much riding on it I was a bit nervous and didn’t give it quite enough welly. The problem was that Shipperley knew nothing about the bet and managed to reach it and even head it back into play.
I have never run so much in my life. If there had been Pro Zone analysis back then my stats would have been amazing for the next minute as I charged around the pitch desperately trying to kick the ball out of play. Suddenly it was no longer a question of winning money. We stood to lose a lot of cash if it went much longer than 75 seconds before the ball went out. I had visions of guys coming to kneecap me. Eventually we got the ball out on 70 seconds. The neutral time meant we had neither won nor lost. I have never tried spread betting since.
What happened to Le Tissier after that? Well, he became a pundit on Sky Spots. Punishment enough, you might say…