The vice-chairman of a football club tarnished by match-fixing suspicions for the past year has launched a blistering attack on the Football Association and the Gambling Commission for their "inept" handling of the case.
Colin Peake, vice-chairman at Forest Green Rovers, has told The Independent it is a "total disgrace" that the Commission has now closed its investigation, apparently without interviewing anybody involved.
The game was Rovers' match in the Blue Square Premier against Grays Athletic on 26 April 2009. Betting was suspended after "unusual" bets, at odds of 22-1 or more, that Rovers would lead at half-time but lose. That happened and bookmakers said the betting was the strangest they had ever seen: up to £50,000 was in bets (or attempted bets) by hundreds of individuals in an attempted £1m sting.
Alan Alger, the spokesman for Blue Square, sponsors of the division, and bookmakers, said at the time the betting looked "extremely dodgy". Alger went further on a Radio 5 documentary to make the declaration that he believed the game had been fixed.
With the Commission closing the case, bookmakers must pay out, and industry sources say there is "disgust" and "alarm" at the outcome.
Peake's frustration is twofold. He cannot understand how his club has been under suspicion for a year with no updates on the case. As a former policeman with 26 years' experience in the CID, he is also "flabbergasted" that nobody at either club involved has been questioned by any investigatory body, to his knowledge.
"We're very unhappy," Peake said. "I have to question whether the FA and the Commission are serious about eradicating corruption. How the hell can you investigate alleged match-fixing and nobody from the club ever gets interviewed? You go and rattle a few cages."
The Independent has been told the Commission was presented by bookmakers with "clear, irrefutable evidence" that bets were placed by individuals linked to the match, in some cases by residents at players' addresses.
The Independent has also been told by an informed source that the Commission looked solely at whether it could prosecute anyone for the offence of "cheating" as defined by Section 42 of the Gambling Act 2005.
Commission sources say it is impossible to link an individual bet to a specific incident that "fixed" the game – as would be necessary to use the Act.
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