SNOOKER: Griffiths doubts betting `scam'

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The Independent Online
Terry Griffiths, cleared of any involvement in the last alleged snooker betting scandal to be investigated, does not believe Jimmy White's match against Peter Francisco at the world championship was fixed.

The game's governing body, the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association, is holding an inquiry tomorrow into the first-round match because betting on the match was suspended on Saturday after the Betting Office Licensees' Association informed the WPBSA of "unusual betting patterns". A number of gamblers correctly predicted a 10-2 White win.

Griffiths, a former world champion who was questioned then cleared by fraud squad officers following his 5-1 win over Silvino Francisco - Peter's uncle - in the 1989 Benson and Hedges Masters, said it was beyond his comprehension how any player throw a match.

"I just can't see how they could play the game if they did something like that. They would not be able to forgive themselves," he said. "Jimmy has got to be the most honest person in the world. I was with Peter recently and I know how much he was looking forward to playing here."

Snooker's official bookmakers, William Hill, have revealed the extent of their liability. Their spokesman, Graham Sharpe, said: "The liability is around £10,000. The largest individual bet we took was £500 at 5-2, although we turned down one of £600. We could have acquired a much larger liability if we had wanted to, despite cutting the price from 4-1 to 5-2 and then 7-4. I would estimate the liability across the industry is between £50,000 and £60,000."

Sharpe added: "I think it is significant the WPBSA made a very quick decision to hold their own inquiry. We are awaiting the outcome with interest." He advised punters to hold on to their betting slips until the WPBSA inquiry - and any investigations BOLA might make of their own - have been completed. Bookmakers are withholding payment of winnings at the moment.

Griffiths slogged through seven hours and 42 minutes to defeat Alain Robidoux 10-6 in the early hours of yesterday morning to preserve his coveted place in the top 16.

John Higgins was the event's second favourite but his dream of being the youngest world champion ended in a 10-3 loss to his fellow Scot, Alan McManus.

Results, Sporting digest, page 31