Bookmaker suspends betting on BBC's goals

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The Independent Online

The BBC was facing fresh scrutiny last night after it emerged that a bookmaker had closed betting on Match of the Day's "Goal of the Season" competition when unusually large sums of money were placed on one particular entry.

The latest controversy to hit a popular BBC show centres around 10 goals that are judged by a panel of the show's presenters, including Gary Lineker, Alan Hansen and Mark Lawrenson. Viewers are invited to second-guess the experts.

Amid suspicions of a leak, the online betting company Blue Square, which has taken bets on the competition since Friday, suspended activity after £10,000 was staked in just four hours this week on Arsenal's Emmanuel Adebayor's volley against Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane.

The company said it would normally expect to take bets of up to £5,000 in a week. But a flurry of 400 bets on Adebayor's effort – originally given 9-2 favourite to win – contributed to a total of £12,500 on the competition before the striker's odds were slashed to 1-5.

The introspective corporation has been quick to reflect its own controversies of recent months, from numerous phone-in scandals to the "Crowngate" affair in which footage implying the Queen stormed out of a photo shoot was promoted by the then BBC1 controller Peter Fincham. A spokeswoman said: "We are talking to Blue Square and if there's enough evidence we will investigate."

But the company added that it currently had no evidence of any improper conduct.

A Blue Square spokesman said: "We are not suggesting that there's anything untoward at the BBC but this kind of level of business suggests that there has been a leak."

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