Wow and flutter

AN FA statement last week gave short shrift to allegations of match-fixing as it shutdown a probe into betting patterns surrounding October’s Championship fixture between Norwich City and Derby County.

Football’s overseers claim they ‘received assistance from the Gambling Commission and individual UK bookmakers, who confirmed that no suspicious activity took place on their markets around the match at Carrow Road.’

westhamThat’s that, then. Except, er, the activity didn’t arise in the UK. The heavy half-time money came from the Far East through Singapore-based SBOBET, who flatly refused to co-operate with the FA’s enquiry. Curiouser and curiouser, the FA’s unfounded confidence on Friday in the offending fixture came just in time for them to welcome SBOBET into the family as West Ham United’s brand new shirt sponsor at tonight’s televised visit of Harry Redknapp’s Spurs.

Despite Premier League Chief Executive Richard Scudamore’s parliamentary defence of his league and its mountainous liabilities, worldwide interest in buying its hugely-indebted clubs has all but dried up. One such club’s predicament is unique, and provides a decent wormhole into the way football is heading.

West Ham United have been shafted left, right and centre by an international financial crisis and are on the receiving end of a whacking great compo bill thanks to their own illegality and Scudamore’s failure to conceal it.

On the bones of their arse, they turn like the barrow boys they are to the cream cookies. Overseas betting markets offer a tonic for not only ailing Premier League clubs but also, as speculated a few posts back, the woes of the entire league in the form of Game 39.

Quite where all this sucking up to bookmakers leaves a competition which entrusts the majority of its televised matches (and therefore its biggest worldwide markets) to one of only three referees is unclear, but it hasn’t done one of them, Mike Dean, any harm whatsoever.

Suspended just three years ago for his involvement with a betting website, he’s now not only a FA Cup Final official, but hope personified for the alive and well Mark Clattenburg.

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