Snooker: No inquiry into `insurance betting'

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The Independent Online
The World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association, the game's ruling body, reiterated yesterday that it would not launch an inquiry into players who may bet on opponents as insurance against losing.

Their stance follows allegations by Ian Doyle, the manager of the world No 1 Stephen Hendry, that a former chairman of the WPBSA, John Spencer, had approached players and suggested that it made good business sense to wager on opponents.

Spencer yesterday denied there was any truth in the allegations. But he said he saw nothing wrong with such practices. "If it's not illegal, then I don't see anything wrong with it. But if they [players] make a profit by losing deliberately, then that is, in my eyes, illegal."

Under WPBSA rules, betting on the outcome of matches is allowed. A spokesman confirmed that the WPBSA had received complaints about Spencer, but because no illegal activity was alleged, there had been no inquiry and the matter was closed. However, the association stressed that it did not condone betting by players on matches and the situation was under review.

Doyle, whose solicitor will raise the matter at the annual meeting of the WPBSA in March, said Spencer had approached him at last year's Benson and Hedges Masters. "John suggested that as the differential between semi-final money and final money was substantial, it would be sensible to place a bet on Stephen Hendry's opponent, who was Alan McManus," he said.

John Higgins, who manages his son and the world No 2 John Higgins, said he had been given the same advice by Spencer during another tournament

"He wasn't asking John to sell the game by any means," he said. "But he says it was in the interest of players to put some money on them [their opponents] in case they lost," he said.

Doyle has made his claims public because the WPBSA refuse to change the rules to outlaw such practices, an amendment he believes is necessary for the game's integrity.

Barry Hearn, whose Matchroom stable includes Steve Davis and Jimmy White, agrees. "Personally I think no snooker player should bet on matches, just like jockeys can't bet on their races," he said.

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