News that Europol are investigating alleged corruption in more than 300 matches across Europe won’t come as a shock to many. But it’s done nothing for those that work within, or around the betting industry.
A powerful Far East consortium is alleged to have bribed more than 400 players, match officials and club owners to influence the result of games in domestic leagues. Even the Champions League is said to have been affected. Match-fixing is, sadly, nothing new. There was a famous case in English football in the 1960s which resulted in a mixture of jail sentences and life bans for more than 30 players, while Liverpool and Wimbledon players were accused of similar misdemeanours in the 1990s, though were cleared. The Asian gambling market and its wide range of football bets looks firmly to blame and the last thing the industry needed to hear was that a Conservative MP is now under investigation. Not for match-fixing, but for not declaring that he’d been treated to an all-expenses day at Cheltenham by Ladbrokes and been gifted a sizeable ‘subscription, by another leading British bookmaker.
What is particularly disconcerting is that Philip Davies is a prominent member of the House Of Commons committee that oversees culture, the media and sport. He’s alleged to have deliberately not declared gratuities from Ladbrokes and Betfred (via one of their subsidiary companies) which begs the question – why?
Davies is clearly in a position to influence any recommendations which may be handed down to government and could possibly become law in the fullness of time. The MP maintains he’s done nothing wrong and there is no evidence of wrongdoing by either Ladbrokes and Betfred but Fairer Gambling, which campaigns against exploitative betting, has made an official complaint to the parliamentary commissioner for standards. Davies actually made a speech outlining why bookmakers should not be made to pay towards treatment for problem gamblers or advertising – you can see where this is going.
Mr Davies may well be innocent of any wrongdoing but if he has not been totally honest with his peers, he’s hardly brought credit on himself. Likewise, the bookmakers with which he’s associated – and that’s not done the industry any favours either.