15.12.08

BETTING 'SCANDAL' ROCKS UK CHAMPIONSHIP

Stephen Maguire’s 9-3 victory over Jamie Burnett in the Maplin UK Championship may be the subject of an official investigation after betting was suspended on this very scoreline ahead of the match.

“When you get new accounts opened from Glasgow addresses to bet frame scores, alarm bells go off,” said Cliff Wilds, Head of Sport at the bookmakers Victor Chandler.

“We took no money on Maguire to win 9-2 or 9-4, only 9-3. That sets the alarm bells off as well.”

Maguire the 2004 UK champion and an obvious favourite to win the match, led 6-2 overnight against Burnett, a friend, fellow Glaswegian and sometime practice partner who beat Jamie Cope 9-7 to qualify.

Burnett compiled a classy 113 break to win the tenth frame before Maguire made it 8-3.

The next was littered with errors on both sides. Eventually, Maguire left the green in the jaws and Burnett potted it.

He added the brown but massively overhit his positional shot for the blue, which he nevertheless stroked in from distance.

He missed a long pink but fluked it, leaving himself an awkward, missable cut-back black.

Burnett overcut this by such a margin that it did not even hit the pocket jaws.

Both players vehemently denied any part in a betting coup. Burnett said he was aware betting had been suspended and that this intensified the pressure he felt at 8-3.

"In the last frame I have never felt more pressure in my life," he said. "I didn't think I could have played the colours knowing people have been saying things.

"On the black I said to myself, 'I need to get this, I need to get this' in case some people start talking. I just felt so under pressure, probably the most pressure I have felt in my life. Then to come off was the lowest feeling. I felt terrible."

"People have been laughing and joking about things like that for years, but to my knowledge nobody has ever done anything. Snooker is too important. There is a career here."

The WPBSA issued a statement. It reads: “We have agreements in place with both Betfair and the Association of British Bookmakers who contact World Snooker confidentially if irregular betting patterns are reported.

“In such cases the match in question is carefully monitored by World Snooker and a thorough assessment of the players’ performance will be made.

“In past incidents, which are extremely rare, World Snooker have taken a particularly stringent line where players have been judged guilty of match fixing or intention to match fix.”

Peter Francisco was banned for five years in 1995 and Quinten Hann for eight in 2006.

Since then, there have been a few grumbles from bookmakers, particularly at the 2006 and 2007 Grand Prix and 2008 Malta Cup – all played under a round robin format.

Peter Ebdon’s 5-0 defeat to Liang Wenbo at this season’s Northern Ireland Trophy is still under investigation by the Gambling Commission.

Snooker, I believe, is mainly clean but any suspicious matches should be investigated in full.

This means taking evidence from bookmakers, the players themselves, the referee, commentators and anyone else with relevant information.

And it should not matter whether matches involve the world no.80, the world champion or a WPBSA board member – they should all be treated the same.

Regardless of what happens with this latest case - which may turn out to be entirely innocent - I believe that any player found guilty of match fixing should be banned from the sport for life.

If people don’t believe the sport is honest then it will not continue to attract sponsors, broadcasters or spectators.

That would mean the end of professional snooker as we know it.

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

Maguire has been the subject of suspicion before (against Hawkins). If World snooker wont investigate Ebdon Wenbo properly despite masses of reasonable evidence, then it is not sending the right message to other players. Contrary to World Snooker's suggestions match fixing allegations are commonplace, there are suspicious games every season - they just go unnoticed as does the game itself to the outside world.

I ask World Snooker - can you confirm if you have condicted any investigation into the Wenbo Ebdon affair. If so, was it impartial, given that one of the alleged perpetrators is on the board?

Scott said...

That missed black was difficult, but to miss it by so much smacks of fixing. He had managed to knock in a 113 break to make it 7-3, but then his game had gone so much that he misses a black by about 6 inches.

The evidence is circumstantial, but put it all together and there is a case to answer.

Maybe snooker is the sport the CEO of Betfair said earlier this year was dragging its feet in signing a Memorandum of Understanding. Now we can see why.

kimball said...

Better that bookies stop giving
prices for correct score.

Why jump on Maguire?? He can only
win, right.

We never here about all the crazy
bettingpatterns that go awry.

A lot of money were placed on Murphy 9-7 too.

A lot of nonsense about Ebdon too.

Anonymous said...

I think it is well past time that World Snooker published the standard procedures followed on matters such as suspected match fixing- I would presume anyone connected in a position of authority would be immediately suspended from all responsibilities until the conclusion of an investigation.
In saying that I hope everyone is still considered innocent until proven guilty.

Anonymous said...

As a Deputy Manager of one of the UK's leading bookmaker's I am rather concerned about betting in snooker generally.

Betting on the Stephen Maguire v Jamie Burnett game was long suspended in our High Street branches long before the first ball at Telford was struck in anger, as per Liang Wenbo v Peter Edbon in August's Northern Ireland Trophy.

Being involved in the game for 20 years in many capacities this is a sorry sight of affairs but, remember it's not only affecting snooker. Take for example the recent televised Grand Slam Of World Darts and a particular group game between two players from the rival association - Gary Anderson and Darryl Fitton which is currently under scruitney.

kimball said...

Well, for not naming tennis or soccer!

Anonymous said...

Hello,
off topic:
a few days ago i found on comments a link from someone who has done a script for a multilive scoring based on the live scoring from the WSA.
Unfortunately due to laptop problems i lost the link, which was very helpfull, specially on the early stages of the tournaments.
Can someone help and give me the link, please?
Would appreciate some help.
Thanks.

Sorry for the off topic.

Anonymous said...

"If people don’t believe the sport is honest then it will not continue to attract sponsors, broadcasters or spectators."

Yep. Just look to what happened to cycling...

Mig

Anonymous said...

http://www.globalsnookercentre.co.uk/multi_live_scorer.htm

stuartfanning said...

Clive Everton has weighed in on this now, suggesting that the last two frames particularly should be looked at.

http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/article2041908.ece

John said...

It has already been mentioned by a previous poster about Maguire v Hawkins affair at the grand prix - Hawkins was heavily backed at 1/10 on to beat Maguire who had won his previous 2 games of the round robin format with ease (so a loss here would not knock him out). Even at 1-0 up (hawkins missed countless chances in that frame) Maguire was still odds against and this was only first to 3 frames - Over the remaining three frames Maguire conveniently rolled the balls dead weight at the pockets, missing more than he got, and in the process handing guilt edge chance after chance to Hawkins. Even a local pub player would have found it hard to lose this match with the chances offered up.

If the WSA are going to investigate the game yesterday, then they have to look into this game aswell - as there is one common denominator here.

Scott said...

Have a look at frame 7 here with Burnett clearing up the colours. Go to 1m 10s in when he is potting the yellow, great stun on to the green but then watch him foul the black with his hand. The movement is so unnatural it's embarrassing.

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=nKbY8zKejv8

Would also point out no apology to Maguire when fluking the pink in the last frame - more just a look of horror.

Scott said...

I see Skybet are offering 10/1 on a "Top 16 player to get banned for match fixing in 2009"

http://www.skybet.com/skybet?action=GoEvEv&id=11565510

Anonymous said...

Jamie Burnett seems genuine in his interview but it's unexplainable that so much money goes on 9-3. Noone would be stupid enough to do this without some knowledge.