|British bookmakers are convinced a betting coup took place surrounding Wednesday's UEFA Cup match between Greek side Panionios and Georgia's Dinamo Tbilisi. |
The extraordinary betting patterns related to the match, which Panionios won 5-2 after trailing 1-0 at halftime, caused several bookmakers to suspend betting.
“I have no doubt that this was a betting coup,” said Graham Sharpe at William Hill. “But whether it was a betting coup based on a fixed result is another matter.”
“You often see unusual betting patterns that you can subsequently put down to a bandwagon effect.”
The explosion of online gambling in recent years helps explain why British bookmakers were taking bets on a UEFA Cup Group D match played by two unglamorous clubs in front of 2,500 fans in Athens.
“This was a worldwide coup,” said Caspar Hill at Betfair, an online company that acts as broker for gamblers around the world to bet against each other.
Odds offered on Betfair for Dinamo Tbilisi leading at halftime and going on to lose went from a relatively normal 36-1 down to 5-1 before kickoff, while the odds on Panionios winning came in from 4-7 to 1-4.
Both these patterns indicate heavy betting on those outcomes, although Hill said that in Betfair's case that might not have been just normal gamblers.
“To have so many people calling up asking about a 5-2 result is very unusual to say the least,” Hill added.
Panionios and Dinamo Tbilisi have both rejected match-fixing allegations.
UEFA officials said on Thursday they were gathering information but had not yet launched an official investigation.