Five Isle of Man-based businessmen have been named in a match fixing hearing which could cost a top snooker player his career.
The disciplinary hearing by the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA) was told professional snooker player Stephen Lee breached the body’s rules on match fixing in relation to seven matches in 2008 and 2009.
He did this by identifying matches he may well lose then going ahead and losing them, in some instances by a particular score, and losing the first frame of specified matches he was confident of still winning.
The WPBSA hearing was told Mr Lee’s then manager and four associates, all based in the Isle of Man, had placed ‘extraordinary’ bets on the matches in question, which ‘could not be explained by reference to usual betting market activity.’
The WPBSA report goes on to say: ‘On the balance of probability the betting was reflective of the associated bettors or the lead person of each group not only having been given inside information as the the likely outcome but having been given comfort that the player himself would be striving to achieve that outcome.’
Evidence was presented, for example that the parties had placed unexpectedly high bets and their betting was most active at the time of the matches in question. Betting on snooker was in itself unusual for the bettors within the group and the type of bets placed - on the outcome of a first frame or the degree by which a match would be lost, for example - were also out of the ordinary.
Two other groups based in the UK were also found to have followed similar voting patterns to the Isle of Man group on those matches.
Group members placed multiple bets both on-line and using the internet. Overall, the Isle of Man group, made approaching £35,000 just from their on-line bets for Mr Lee to lose matches.
All the bettors apart from two in the Isle of Man group made an overall profit from their bets on Mr Lee.
The report from independent dispute service Sport Resolutions says Mr Lee will discover his penalty at a later hearing.