Wayne Rooney's dad and uncle have been arrested on suspicion of betting fraud after Scouser Steve Jennings was sent off in the Motherwell v Hearts game - triggering payouts on bets placed on a red card being shown in the match.
I would imagine that this is going to be a very difficult thing to prove - unless there is hard evidence of Jennings pocketing dosh himself, but it certainly whiffs and makes you wonder just how much corruption there is in the game. There was talk years back of Mark Ward cashing in after smashing the ball straight into touch from a kickoff, securing bets placed on the time of the first throw-in, and, whilst this may seem innocent enough, if it happened, it presumably involved collusion with the opposition regarding who kicked off.
I know from dabbling in laying odds that sport is riddled with corrupt practices. Horse racing is full of scams and I have been caught out laying a horse, only for the jockey to be changed minutes before the off and for the price to suddenly come crashing down. I laid at 36-1 and the outsider of seven romped home at a final SP of 18-1. It hadn't won for the best part of two years but the jockey change was the signal to those in the know that this was the day to get on it. Was the race referred to the Jockey Club? Was it hell as like! That's how the "industry" works!
Years back I worked for Ladbrokes, managing an office in Forest Hill. One day, British Telecom, as they were then called, managed to cross the lines of a private customer with the Excel service supplying commentaries to our office. All morning this guy's phone calls were broadcast live to the office and call after call was made to tip people off about a nag called Flying Imp. My office was taking shed loads on the horse so a call was put through to Head Office to alert them to unusual betting patterns. The answer came back that it was only local so nothing would be done - it would just bugger my bonus. Flying Imp duly romped home at odds of 8-1.
If Jennings is nailed, you can be sure this is just the tip of an iceberg. As long as you can bet on stupid things like the timing of a no ball in cricket, or the number of yellow cards in a football game, you will invite betting fraud because it is too easy to fix. But who is going to put a stop to these types of bets given the turn over of the betting industry and the money Sky makes from advertising by the bookies? People will say, "So what if the bookies are scammed?" but that misses the point completely - the real losers are the fans who believe they are watching a "clean" sport but which may be fixed beyond their wildest dreams. Look at how members of the Pakistan cricket team have betrayed their genuine fans.
Given the alleged involvement of two Rooneys in this red card scam, might I suggest the police look very closely at betting patterns for the England v Portugal World Cup quarter final? Well, you never know, do you?