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Real Reason Premier League Runs Scared Of Match Fixing

9 years ago

Match fixing has been making many headlines recently and while matches in the Premier League haven’t been implicated, the claims/rumours are heading up through the divisions.

Just this week Blackburn’s DJ Campbell was bailed following allegations of ‘spot-fixing’ during matches.

This (spot-fixing) relates to specific instances in a match and not just the result, such as somebody getting sent off or a penalty being awarded etc.

While you might think the rewards for players in the Premier League are so high that surely players wouldn’t be so greedy/stupid to illegally try and get even more money, one thing is for sure that there’s always a danger some people are so greedy/stupid they would put the riches they have already got at risk.

That is why the Premier League are getting more and more uncomfortable and there is one reason more than any other that dominates their thoughts.

I recently attended a conference organised by the Newcastle United Supporters Trust (NUST) at Newcastle University Business School, just opposite St.James’ Park.

An interesting afternoon spent listening to various speakers doing presentations covering Financial Fair Play (FFP) and fan engagement.

One of the speakers was the excellent Sean Hamil, who I’d seen speak before.

For those of you who don’t know, Sean is a lecturer in management at Birkbeck College, University of London, where he is also academic programme director of the postgraduate sport management programmes & a director of Birkbeck Sport Business Centre.

As well as his day to day work, Sean has also written a number of books including The Changing Face Of The Football Business.

Anyway, that’s his background and while all of his presentation was interesting and entertaining, one point he made was something that made perfect sense and was glaringly obvious, but I had somehow missed.

Sean talked about the English Premier League compared to its rivals around the world, particularly in Europe.

One thing made the Premier League stand out and that is it’s seen as the cleanest in the world, while other countries are seen as rife with allegations of bribes and match fixing – England’s top division is seen as clean as a whistle. Pretty much every other league in every other country has been tainted by allegations of underhand behaviour at some time or other.

While the perceived ‘clean’ nature of the Premier League gives it a more respectable air, there is a much more practical reason as to why this beyond reproach reputation is so important.

Not surprisingly it comes down to money.

When it comes to the vast broadcasting deals which make the Premier League the most lucrative,  the clean factor is vital.

This isn’t because overseas broadcasters are desperate to deal with an ‘honourable’ league, it is all to do with why viewers around the world want to see a league that is clean.

The big reason? Gambling.

The biggest driving factor for the overseas rights is that punters around the world and especially in places such as China and the Far East, love gambling. They might love football as well but they want to watch their football week in and week out AND have a bet on it AND be confident that matches aren’t fixed. Yes lots of people in other countries may adopt an English club but the one thing that does unite so many of them is having a bet and betting big in many cases.

That is why there is such a massive premium when Premier League rights are sold in most countries, the purity of the game. It is also obviously why the Premier League and club owners will be desperate to see allegations of match or spot fixing, come to a halt before they infringe on the Premier League.

The amount of money worldwide wagered on Premier League matches, both legally and illegally, is mind boggling. Ironically, those incredible amounts of money wagered, indirectly lead to the ludicrous amounts paid to your average Premier League player thanks to the TV riches.

Maybe those very inflated wage packets will help protect the Premier League’s elite position in terms of being seen as keen. What is clear though is that there is no room for complacency.

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