SBC News - May 2017

Piegate and Spot-Fixing vs Sunderland and John Terry

Super Soccer Oddsfeed's Jeevan Jeyaratnam spoke to SBC News about the Stamford Bridge swansong for John Terry, and how this compares to Wayne Shaw's pie-eating antics.

I've heard some sensationalist views this week regarding the, admittedly daft, stunt triggered on Sunday when the now ex-Sunderland boss David Moyes and his squad colluded with Chelsea's wishes to force a break in play during the 26th minute.

Retiring club hero John Terry, adorned in the number 26 shirt, had, it was later revealed, reached an agreement with his boss Antonio Conte that he would play just 26 minutes of the final game of his Chelsea career. In order for the substitution to be regarded as symbolic it had to happen in the 26th minute.

As a substitution can only occur during a natural break in play, there is absolutely no guarantee this could happen without both sides 'agreement'. To this end, Sunderland goalkeeper Jordan Pickford kicked the ball into touch during minute 26 to facilitate the somewhat farcical change.

Let's be clear here, the Premier League has not seen fit to investigate this acknowledged collusion and apart from belittling the already doomed Sunderland, little harm was done and there is no evidence to suggest this information leaked and led to any sort of betting activity.

There have been calls from the less informed that this was akin to spot-fixing, the scourge of black market cricket fixes. The dictionary definition of spot-fixing varies somewhat but is essentially, "the pre-meditated engineering of an outcome within a sporting event." The Wikipedia entry is perhaps more encapsulating in that it correctly suggests this engineering occurs to service a betting market.

The fundamental difference between this event and traditional spot fixes is the stimulus. There isn't an odds market for this kind of thing, nor is it likely that there ever will be, the very basis for allowing this to happen was not entrenched in a desire to profit financially. Spot-fixing has financial gain firmly imprinted into its DNA, it is the only reason it happens. This stimulus difference is critical but seems to have been conveniently ignored by those wishing to cause harm, cause controversy and sell papers.

Revisiting the Piegate incident earlier in the year, we can draw parallels between Wayne Shaw's pie-eating and spot-fixing; the incident occurred for financial gain through ‘manipulation' of a betting market. This is, albeit not the worst case, very close to our definition of spot-fixing, as while not directly affecting the game or outcome, the act did occur in what is considered to be the playing arena.

Crucially the Sunderland/John Terry incident had no basis in financial gain and reports of bets laid can be attributed to clever lateral thinking on behalf of punters, who remembered back to Didier Drogba's last game in the royal blue. Though Drogba played most of his Chelsea career in the number 11 shirt he was carried off the pitch in the 30th minute, also against Sunderland, and punters requesting a price for Terry exiting in the 26th minute were merely being smart, not pre-informed.

Paddy Power laid three bets at 100/1, it appears the maximum single stake £25. Clearly this is wholly different from both traditional spot-fixing and the Piegate debacle, where stakes alone were alleged to have been over £1000 and the outcome clearly considered to be "certain".

While neither incident shows the sport in the best light, it is inflammatory to suggest this was anything more than an ill-conceived 'tribute' to a rare breed of player, who stayed with the same club since age 14.


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