Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Asian Bookies Secret (2) - floodlights


On a Monday evening in November 1997 Frank Lampard had just struck an equaliser for West Ham United against Crystal Palace when the floodlights at Upton Park failed, plunging the ground into darkness and forcing the abandonment of the game.

As football fans in east London cursed their luck, 6,500 miles away in Malaysia members of an Asian betting syndicate celebrated a six-figure payout.

A month later the syndicate – who had "arranged" for the lights to go out – repeated their scam during a Wimbledon vs Arsenal game. But, when they tried for a third time, at a Charlton vs Liverpool match, their plan was foiled. The security guard who had been bribed to trip the electrics using a remote control told a colleague of the plan and he alerted the police. Four men – two Malaysians, a Chinese man and Roger Firth, the Charlton security supervisor – were subsequently jailed for between 18 months and four years.

The scam was the first and so far only time that an Asian betting syndicate has been proven to have successfully infiltrated a British sporting event. But, as Sunday's News of the World cricket story suggested, sport in the UK is by no means out of the reach of crooked betting stings which have their roots in the Far East.

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