Features 17 November 2016

Player asks Australia to overturn match-fixing ban

One of the players at the centre of football’s Southern Stars match-fixing scandal is seeking to get his life ban from the game overturned. England’s Nick McKoy was one of six people who pleaded guilty to charges relating to match-fixing in the 2013 season of the Victorian Premier League, a competition in Australia’s second tier.

Already successful at getting his conviction overturned, The Saturday Paper reports that the 30-year-old has now begun talks with the Football Federation Australia (FFA) in a bid to play the game again. Fixers made an more than A$2 million (€1.4 million) from their operation in Australia, which involved loading the team with overseas imports and getting them to underperform until the odds were ‘flipped’.

Perhaps ironically, the players convicted were not charged over the one match on which the syndicate made its biggest profits, a 0-1 win over table-topping Northcote City. The game involved the use of eight foreign players, all from south-east England and Central Europe. One of them, Lewis Smith, flew out to Australia for just three matches and was recently banned by the English FA on serious gambling related charges from that same period, when he played for AFC Hornchurch.

Under Victorian state legislation, match-fixing is punishable as a crime to corrupt a betting outcome, meaning prosecutors should have the scope to charge those involved in winning a match where they have engineered artificially high odds. According to the OddsPortal website, the Southern Stars win against Northcote City paid out an average of $21.22 on the pre-match market. Those are the highest winning odds in their archive of Australian football results, and by a considerable margin. Despite threats to ban other players who were arrested but not charged, at least one of them – Ryan Hervel – continues to play, with Ware FC in the Isthmian League.

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