Foul play?


A stunning 9 - 0 defeat in a match between UK football clubs Weymouth vs. Rushden and Diamonds has triggered a Football Association investigation into possibly unusual betting patterns after bookies took a GBP 1 million beating as fans allegedly bet against their own club.

Bookmakers who lost heavily on the Blue Square Premier match have admitted that it is improbable that the FA's investigation will uncover foul play. The bookies took 10 times the usual bets last weekend, all on Rushden to win, after Weymouth's youth team were fielded when the club's senior players went on strike over a medical insurance dispute. The young team was comprehensively defeated 9 - 0.

Betfair, which has a memorandum of understanding with the FA to release information from its sophisticated tracking facilities on those who placed bets on its exchange, predicted that an inquiry would show only that "a good old-fashioned gamble" had been landed.

Weymouth's financial problems had been no secret, and a 14-day employment rule had been invoked by the players, the Northhampton Chronicle reported. Rumours began circulating that the club would be fielding a weakened side to face Rushden and Diamonds as early as Tuesday evening last week.

Most bookmakers believe therefore that it was simply a case of the general public being better informed than the bookies. Tony Calvin, spokesman for Blue Square, said: "For once, the punters had the better information."

Totesport was one of the first to suspend betting on Saturday morning after "smelling a rat". Spokesman George Primarolo said: "The GBP1 million figure is about right. It has been taken off the bookies but there's nothing untoward or suspicious about it. People have got wind of the team news before the bookies have. This sort of thing happens in the lower leagues from time to time.

"It's different to the Premier League because we know everything that's happening, everything is so well documented. The lower down the league you get, the more the fans know."

A Coral spokesman said: "Normally GBP 30 000 to GBP 40 000 would be paid out on a match like this across the whole industry. But we paid out in the region of GBP 100 000 and we are 20 percent of the industry. "It was an exceptional amount of money for a lower league game."

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