Betting syndicate approached referee

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The Independent Online
For the first time, referees are at the centre of a match-rigging scandal. Ken Aston, who took charge of international matches, is the official involved in the controversy.

Aston claims that he was offered £25,000 by two representatives of a Far East syndicate to pass on names, addresses and telephone numbers of the country's top players and referees. Aston immediately reported the approach to the Football Association, who in turn alerted the police.

Pat Partridge, the public relations officer of the Association of Premier League and Football League Referees and Linesmen, said: "It is the first I have heard of it. But if it is the case then it is a worrying trend and one that must be stamped on. English referees are respected throughout the world and I am very sorry to to hear of this development.

"There is enough trouble in football at the moment without these allegations. They have got to be followed up for the good of the game."

Aston, who refereed the 1963 FA Cup final between Manchester United and Leicester City, claims he was approached in a Singapore restaurant by two Indians while on holiday.

They promised to pay cash for the information they believed would help them bring in up to £2.7m from a betting stake of around £450,000.

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