The Sunday Supplement: could match-fixing happen in the Premier League?

Last Updated: 10/12/13 9:26am

The Supplement panel discuss whether or not match-fixing could happen in the Premier League.

The National Crime Agency arrested six men last week, including at least three players, alleged to have been involved in fixing football matches in the English lower leagues.

The arrests were made following a sting by the Daily Telegraph, in which it claims undercover reporters discussed the possibility of influencing the scores and outcomes of games for as little as £50,000.

"A lot of people have been saying that English football has been complacent to think this does not happen in the game," explained Steve Bates of The People.

"I am not so sure it happens at the top level where you obviously have highly paid players - you tend to find these things happen lower down the order where they are not earning the sort of money the top stars are earning.

"This scandal centers on non-league football but I think it is right to be vigilant on these things - we have seen how it has been endemic in cricket for a long time. I think it would be very remiss for the authorities to think it does not happen in our game. I don't think it is a major problem at the top level of our game.

"I think the media have taken this seriously and have not been complacent - it is at a lower level but it is very serious if this is in the game and the integrity of the game has to be protected."

Andy Dunn of the Sunday Mirror believes that it could well happen at the top level: "I understand what Steve is saying when he says we cannot be complacent but in the next breath I think you are being complacent - I think the media are being complacent and the football authorities are being complacent about this.

"First of all this idea that it can only happen low down because the players are corruptible because they are not earning very much money -I take that point but we all know players who earn five figures a week who are going bankrupt.

"Secondly why would it only be players surely the people who are in the best position to influence the game are referees. We have seen match-fixing scandals that have involved referees in Portugal; we have seen some trouble in Austria - these are in the top leagues. This idea that it cannot effect the Premier League is head in the sand stuff.

"I think it calls for the Premier League, the FA and the Football league to set up a specific body - get together and form an anti-corruption unit for all football.

Jason Burt of the Sunday Telegraph agrees: "I completely agree with Andy, it seems like the obvious thing to do - a sort of crime-busting commission whose role is to investigate match-fixing. Other sports do it and I think it is the right thing to do. You have to be careful though that you don't scare players - you want them to come forward if they have had approaches.

"I don't think there is a big problem in the Premier League but I would be surprised if there was not a problem at some level.

"I spoke to Steve Kent who is the chairman of Billericay Town on Friday - he was involved in that case earlier in the year where there was more money bet on that match than on the Barcelona Champions league game - I think it was a million pounds on one game.

"What he said, and I agree with him, is that we should not even be allowed to bet on non-league matches - why are they doing it? They don't know enough about non-league football to bet on it.

"You get people in these unregulated markets betting on reserve team games, junior football - they are just betting on anything. Because that level of football is below the radar the scrutiny is not that great, the chances of getting caught are much less."