Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Who bet on the pies?

Sutton United reserve keeper, Wayne "the Roly-Poly-Goalie" Shaw, resigned today when it emerged that he was being investigated by the Gambling Commission and the FA for eating a pasty whilst sat on the bench during his side's FA tie against Arsenal.

Apparently his snack had earned some punters a decent sum with odds of 8-1 being offered on whether he would eat a pie on screen during the broadcast, but the payouts are now being investigated for possible betting irregularities.

The Gambling Commission has warned bookmakers in the past about the dangers of such "novelty bets", but surely they should be outlawed altogether if the credibility of gambling is to be maintained. There are any number of stupid bets that can be placed these days, with increased possibility of fixing taking place. There's nothing to suggest that Shaw had put a bet on himself, or knew people who had, but who else is likely to be interested in betting on something like that happening?

If easy-to-influence incidents were no longer available for bets to be placed on them, this would instantly wipe out a huge chunk of match-fixing. Pakistani cricketers Salman Butt, Mohammad Asir and Mohammad Asif wouldn't have been bribed to ensure that no-balls were bowled in particular overs, and Southampton footballer Matthew le-Tissier wouldn't have tried to kick the ball off the pitch at a certain time to produce the first throw-in of the match. Not being able to bet on these things would be no great loss. No-one wakes up thinking "I've got a feeling there's going to be an early throw-in in the match tonight", or "this cricket match has got no-balls written all over it."

Where there's money involved there will always be temptation for sportsmen and women, especially those who don't enjoy the riches that some of their counterparts do, to influence outcomes, but it's much harder to influence the outcome of an entire team sport match than an incidental statistic. Irregular patterns are looked for, but if you couldn't bet on them at all - problem solved.

There will always be problems with one-on-one sports such as tennis, snooker and boxing, but bookmakers can help themselves by not allowing bets on pie-eating.