January 3, 2017

Alfie Burden handed Suspended Suspension

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 5:37 pm

Alfie – Careless

As sporting heists go this one has to be up there with the daftest. Alfie Burden was today handed a 6 month suspended suspension and fined £5000 for breach of the betting rules of the sport.

‘He got off lightly’ I hear you cry. ‘Always knew he was bent’ I hear you roar. ‘What about Stephen Lee?’ I hear from somewhere near Trowbridge, but when you read past the headlines you see that all Alfie is really guilty of is being incredibly stupid and deciding that when the governing body say that players can’t bet on snooker, he thought they weren’t talking to him.

It turns out that The AB of London Town has been punting away without a care in the world, seemingly oblivious to the fact that the sport is in the grip of the bookies and sooner or later someone who knew the rules would find out.

The facts of the case are that between 30th September 2006 and 4th February 2010 the hapless Alf placed in the region of 50 bets on snooker with an online betting operator. Between 30th September 2006 and 22nd November 2007 he placed 5 bets on his own matches. In each case the bet was for him to win as was part of an accumulator with other snooker matches from the same tournament, so at least he wasn’t backing the other fella.

Between 5th July 2013 and 29th November 2016 The AB placed 36 bets on snooker with another online betting operator. The bets were mainly accumulator style bets. None of these bets involved his own matches, but it did include bets on tournaments he competed in.

In an ironic and slightly cruel twist, the governing body have decided to tell everyone what a terrible judge Alfie is and reveal in the official statement that ‘Mr Burden’s betting on snooker has been largely unsuccessful. He has bet a total of £25,003.03 on snooker since 2006 and has to date has lost a total of £2,995.27’.

It goes on that ‘there is no suggestion whatsoever that Mr Burden was doing anything to influence match outcomes or engaged in any corrupt activity, he was solely betting on snooker’.

So is the sentence fair? I’d say the only thing he has done wrong is ignore the rules and for that he’s paid £5000 and had his reputation mildly soiled, but not irrecoverably damaged.

Alfie, you balloon, what were you thinking? Next time just give me a shout and I’ll put it on for ya…only jokin.

What’s the point of The Championship League?

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 9:30 am

Happy new year everyone, I have decided to return from my period of snookerless joy and merriment to ponder a question which I have been mulling over now for quite a while, namely, what is the point of snooker’s Championship League?

There was a time when this oddly formatted event was needed and necessary, it offered players who weren’t up to much the chance of winning a few quid in more or less practice type surroundings at Crondon Park in Essex. The venue itself became synonymous with the event with its mock tudor beams and oversized armchairs, Dave Hendon, a staple there from the very start also made much of the legendary breakfasts that he feasted on every morning before a busy day in the commentary box.

The first couple of events, where 2-2 draws were possible, were not without some controversy too, at one point the match results were so hooky that Bazza himself had to pay a personal visit to warn all players that were not trying their best in every match to watch their backs, he’d got wind that they’d been colluding and he had to put a stop to it, after all, there were people out there gambling their hard earned on match outcomes and it had to be straight as an arrow.

Therein lies the main purpose of the event, underlined by the fact that now they have moved from the intimacy of Crondon to the arena venue of the Ricoh in Coventry (RIP breakfast), where incredibly, but in keeping with the Crondon tradition, nobody is allowed inside to watch. This is because it’s a bookies event, nothing more and nothing less, I remember a firm I used to be in regular contact with telling me that they took more money on a winter’s Monday morning of Crondon matches than they did on the World Championship final the same year.

It’s now in its tenth year and once Bazza took over at World Snooker he quickly ensured that it became part of the official calendar, rather than the original version which was an independent event run by his Matchroom Group, it’s sole sponsor. Again, this makes the event unique, it does not really have a sponsor but can make revenue by selling the stream to the bookies, who seem more than prepared to cough up, presumably because their profits more than cover the outlay, everyone is happy, well, everyone that is except the desperate degenerates that would gamble on two flies crawling up a wall and throw bad money after bad gambling their conkers into the ground on coin toss matches.

It’s telling that the field for the early groups this year is mostly made up of middle ranking players rather than the big guns that have come in to steal the spoils in previous years, in that way I suppose it’s nice that those who are struggling financially at least get a chance to add to the coffers.

So should snooker fans support it? Well, I’m not sure it matters if they do or they don’t, the majority of punters gambling on these matches online probably don’t even know the rules and certainly wouldn’t have an opinion on whether the Shootout should be a ranking event or not, they just view it like those table tennis or badminton matches that pop up on the streams from time to time between two faceless nobodies who bring with them the chance to have a bet.

I’m not bothered either way about it, you could get on your high horse about the morality of staging an event with a sole purpose of lining pockets and fleecing the addicts but that would take away from the fact that it also provides a useful income for players living on the breadline, of which there are many. Perhaps it should be an event only for those outside the top 16 or 32? I’m sure this would make little or no difference to the gambling community and it would possibly make for more interesting viewing for snooker fans, seeing players not used to lifting trophies competing for a life changing amount of money and a title. 

So what have we learned in this past few minutes? Well not a lot, but the point of the championship league I think can be summed up in one word, coincidentally Bazza’s favourite word. Money.

Here endeth the lesson.

All the details about this year’s Championship League are here. I’ll see you at The Masters.

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