August 08, 2014

Perform Group investigating ‘phantom’ football match as bookies make amends

UK-based digital sports media firm Perform Group is wearing egg on its face after a subsidiary provided data to UK bookmakers on a football match that never existed. RunningBall, a Swiss-based firm Perform acquired in 2012, released a statement earlier this week saying it was “aware of irregularities” involving an Aug. 4 exhibition match between Spanish second division football squad Ponferradina and Portugal’s Freamunde. Those irregularities include the fact that Freamunde was actually playing a Portuguese League Cup match against a different opponent.

The cockup has left some UK bookies scrambling to make amends with bettors who placed wagers on the outcome of the ‘phantom’ match. Exchange betting specialists Betfair have voided all bets on the match, saying the RunningBall scout who relayed the ‘live’ match info had failed to realize Freamunde was playing a different team. Gala Coral has announced it will honor all ‘winning’ bets and refund ‘losing’ bets to ensure no punter is negatively affected. A Coral rep told Bloomberg the company was “awaiting more information on how and why this occurred.”

RunningBall claims to employ 1,000 such scouts in over 70 countries to supply it with real-time match data. The company’s investigation into the brouhaha is ongoing, but it says it has yet to find evidence that the unidentified scout in question had engaged in any impropriety.

Freamunde’s own website reportedly displayed the result of the exhibition match as 2-1 to Ponferradina and also listed two bogus future matches against different Spanish teams. Freamunde issued a statement calling the incident “regrettable” while denying any involvement. The suggestion has been made that the website may have been hacked. The Spanish league has asked the police to investigate the “ghost game.”

Federbet, a Brussels-based non-profit watchdog group with a mission to expose betting chicanery, was first to report the discrepancy between RunningBall’s report and reality. Federbet was roundly criticized earlier this year after submitting a report to the European Parliament that claimed widespread fixing was taking place in European football matches without providing much evidence to support their allegations.

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