I remember a report in the Independent newspaper dating from the time of the cricket no ball betting scandal in the summer of 2010. It was about a betting coup and said that in November 1997 the floodlights at Upton Park failed, forcing the abandonment of a game between West Ham and Charlton.
As a result 6,500 miles away in Malaysia members of an Asian betting syndicate received a six-figure payout. A month later the syndicate – who had “arranged” for the lights to go out – repeated their scam during a Wimbledon vs. Arsenal game. But, when they tried for a third time, at a Charlton vs. Liverpool match, their plan was foiled. The security guard who had been bribed to trip the electrics using a remote control told a colleague of the plan and he alerted the police. Four men – two Malaysians, a Chinese man and the Charlton security supervisor – were jailed for between 18 months and four years. The scam was the first time that an Asian betting syndicate had been proven to have successfully infiltrated a British sporting event.
In Asia, punters can place money on “spot bets” which predict the outcome of details surrounding a game. It is only of use to those placing bets in the illegal Asian betting markets. Bookmakers there pay out on the result as it stands if matches are abandoned during the second half of a game. British bookies simply void the bet.
When the lights went out at Craven Cottage on Saturday during the televised Fulham vs. Manchester United game, I raised an eyebrow as the Asian scam came to mind, particularly bearing in mind United’s popularity in Asia and their financial nous in ensuring they have an Asian regular in their 1st team in recent years.
You could have knocked me down with a feather when the same thing happened at the American Super Bowl late on Sunday night. A statement has already been put out to say that conspiracy rumours on Twitter were inaccurate. But what are the chances of that happening twice, in of all possible locations, the venues for the main televised sporting events in England and the USA on the same weekend? I wonder what odds you could have got and if anybody did bet on that outcome, in Asia or anywhere else. I hope the authorities are investigating it properly. After all, there has been plenty of time for the water to have drained out of the electrics in New Orleans by now…I wonder if we will ever know.