It is remarkable how football in the UK has largely avoided the impact of match-fixing scandals seen in other countries, notably Italy. This phenomenon raises two plausible scenarios: either football fixing in the UK is very hard to detect, or, quite possibly, it is not prevalent. Nevertheless, historical records do reveal instances related to match-fixing throughout the history of UK football.
The earliest recorded match-fixing case dates back to 1898, involving a match between Stoke and Burnley. The match ended in a 0-0 draw, benefiting both teams. The forwards showed little eagerness to score, prompting observations in the Athletic News about the need for more goalkeeper involvement. In the following season, Burnley’s goalkeeper, Jack Hillman, was suspended for a year after offering £2 to each Nottingham player to take it easy.
Since that time, only a handful of match-fixing cases have been discovered or, at least, reported. The first notable betting scandal in UK football happened in 1915 when Manchester United, fighting relegation, suspiciously defeated Liverpool 2-0. Allegations arose over the lack of effort displayed by Liverpool players, and an investigation revealed the large sums won from Manchester United’s victory at odds of 7/1. Only four match-fixing scandals related to betting have been uncovered since 1915, occurring in 1964, 2008, and 2013.
The 1964 scandal involved lower league players enticed into betting on fixed outcomes. The 2008 scandal centered around a match between Accrington Stanley and Bury, where unusual betting patterns were detected. The 2013 scandal, affecting Europe, featured a UEFA Champions League draw, and around 380 fixed matches were identified by Europol.
In 2013, the Daily Telegraph and Sun on Sunday exposed lower-league match-fixing scandals involving players like the Sodje brothers, DJ Campbell, and Christian Montano, along with non-footballers bribing players for red cards and influencing match outcomes.
Since then, no further match-fixing scandals have been unearthed in UK football, offering hope that the sport remains untainted. It is challenging to fathom the possibility of English football being actively influenced by match-fixing and betting scandals, especially among elite players. The focus is often directed toward lower leagues, where financial rewards from fixing matches can surpass regular salaries. Many players from lower leagues secretly bet and gamble, especially when online casinos and sportsbooks give bonuses that you can check out here. The allure of fraudulent bribes circulating through betting sites like Paddy Power poses a constant threat to football, a sport that perpetually attracts substantial sums and, unfortunately, is not immune to the shadowy world of match-fixers and criminals. This reality has persisted in the past and is likely to persist in the future.