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.