Fixing football matches only requires three players to be in on it....
Any player or manager found to have been involved should be jailed and banned for life from the game as a message to these parasites
The ugly spectre of conspiracy and corruption cast its shadow over our beautiful game last week when it emerged that police have arrested seven people in connection with an alleged betting scandal.
Two men have been charged and remanded in custody.
Some people will think this situation is beyond belief.
One of the most common questions asked when allegations like these have reared their ugly head is how this kind of thing could be possible, just from a purely practical point of view?
I’ve been asked by fans how cheating individuals can fix the result of a team game, but it can be done.
And the conspiracy does not have to involve an entire team.
Any manager will tell you that, to have any chance of winning a game, you need a minimum of eight of your players performing at the very top of their game.
If three or more players are below their best, then your chances of victory recede significantly.
And, if those players are motivated by greed instead of professional pride and are deliberately trying to lose, they have an excellent chance of succeeding.
That is the reality – no matter how unpalatable a truth for those of us who were brought up to believe in the values of fair play and the expectation that sportsmen and women should strive to give their very best at all times.
I was shocked to hear of the arrests and charges laid during the week.
Of course, the charges are still unproven and all of us must hope that the men involved can prove their innocence, if only for the good of the game. But, whatever happens, all of us involved in the game have to remain vigilant.
I have never been approached by any individual connected to gambling during my long career. But I am pretty sure shady individuals do exist on the margins of the game.
And, if I was ever contacted or even suspected that something underhand was about to take place, I would report it immediately.
My attitude is that sport and gambling should not mix.
I know that may sound naïve, because the two seem like such natural bedfellows. But I’ve never been a man to gamble as it’s a pastime that has never interested me.
Football and gambling have existed hand in glove for years and I have never felt comfortable with it.
The relationship has become even cosier, with many clubs having commercial tie-ups with bookmakers.
Every televised game is accompanied by advertisements encouraging fans to become punters. That just doesn’t sit right with me.
I think the game should be above reproach and football in this country certainly doesn’t need the money.
If any player, manager or coach is found to have been involved in match-fixing, they should feel the full force of the law.
They should be sent to prison for damaging an institution that is precious to millions of people.
And, of course, they should be banned for life from taking up any future role in football.
Anything less would encourage these parasites to think trying to fix matches is a gamble worth taking.
** Irish Mirror - Irish columnist