Last week the English FA revealed it had become suspicious of betting on the sixth tier of English Football. It requested those with information to come forward. Soon after the governing body released a statement saying it would be contacting clubs in the Conference South division to advise them of their findings and ask them to remind players and officials of their responsibilities under the betting and integrity rules of the FA.
Most sports fans are only to well aware of how strong the betting culture has become in sport, and this news reveals that the bookmakers are no longer targeting the top flight players or matches, which spells an administrative nightmare for those charged with running the semi professional leagues around the world.
In Australia most people have focussed on the A League and betting but with betting already available on State League games around the country and with some fixtures featured on the Pools coupons -something that guarantees a small revenue each year to the state body – who is to say that local players and local clubs will not now be the target of betting syndicates in Asia? With a salary cap now in place in Western Australia and some players being forced to coach, or run fitness programs for clubs that they really do not want to do, they could become easy targets for those trying to influence a result.
If a local player was approached to ‘not try too hard’ and there was $500 in it, some may well be tempted to accept, especially those just passing through. The FFA and the local governing bodies need to jump on top of this as soon as possible, as with many of the leagues in Asia moving towards being privately run, in other words no longer run by the game’s governing body, opportunities to influence results will be reduced and new markets will need to be found. Australia will undoubtedly be one such target.