As suspicious betting patterns cast a cloud over Wimbledon, Rick Parry, the outgoing chief executive of Liverpool FC, was yesterday appointed as the chairman of a new "anti- corruption" panel set up by Sports Minister Gerry Sutcliffe. The panel's job is to assess the threat of betting-related corruption in British sport and recommend ways to combat it.
The formation of the panel is a response to fears within Britain's major sports governing bodies that gambling presents a greater threat than doping. The announcement of the line-up comes just as fresh fears have been raised over the integrity of tennis.
Betting markets were suspended on a match at Wimbledon this week after suspicious wagers on a particular scoreline in a men's singles match. Tennis is a distance ahead of most sports, in trying to tackle betting corruption but there is a deliberate and total lack of transparency and accountability in how the authorities are trying to eradicate match-fixing. This does nothing to counter the widely held view they are covering things up.
One of the panel's jobs will be to assess the threat to sport from betting corruption, and decide how to make a concerted effort to stamp it out.
Parry has accepted his new role on a part-time basis along with 12 other panellists comprising representatives from the betting industry, the police, players, fans, sports governing bodies, the legal profession and the Gambling Commission.
Parry said: "Integrity and sport must go hand-in-hand and anything that threatens that bond of trust has to be stamped out. The panel has a wealth of experience and knowledge, and I am confident that we can build on the work already done to ensure we have the toughest possible approach to corruption."
Sutcliffe said: "I am delighted that Rick Parry has agreed to lead this vitally important work. His expertise in the nation's most high-profile sport will give this project the impetus it needs to tackle sports betting corruption head-on.
"We cannot be complacent and need to act now to prevent this becoming a real threat. There are some complex issues involved and this is by no means an easy task, but I have great confidence in the panel and I look forward to hearing the recommendations."
The panel will also assess current rules on sports betting to ensure they are as robust as possible, ensuring better communications between those involved in tackling sports betting corruption, as well as the education of sportsmen and women on the issue.