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Page last updated at 05:27 GMT, Thursday, 11 June 2009 06:27 UK

Bookmaker may stop football bets

William Hill
William suspended bets on a game in the 2007-2008 season

Bookmakers William Hill may abandon betting on certain football matches next season, the BBC has been told.

Spokesman Graham Sharpe said the company may consider the move to prevent it becoming a victim of suspicious betting patterns.

Industry insiders claim end-of-season matches with little at stake appear to be most vulnerable.

In April, a leading Irish bookmaker adopted a policy for suspending bets on this type of match.

Paddy Power suspended betting on virtually all end-of-season games in the Irish football league.

Game's integrity

Mr Sharpe told BBC Radio 4's The Report that William Hill was considering a similar policy for certain matches in England next season.

"This country always had a reputation for the integrity of the game... but if we start to feel all is not well with every game you may well end up with a situation where bookmakers will start to be selective about some of the matches they decide to bet on and may restrict people from betting on certain games," he added.

William Hill stopped taking bets on one game in the 2007-2008 season and informed the football authorities it had suspicions about betting patterns, although the match was subsequently cleared by the Football Association.

The BBC understands the FA and the Gambling Commission are currently investigating five games over allegations of suspicious betting patterns.

The FA said it would not be commenting on any investigation.

'Offensive bets'

Meanwhile, a senior tennis official has told The Report he believes betting when a match is taking place should be banned.

Bill Babcock, executive director Grand Slam and professional tournaments of the International Tennis Federation, told the BBC: "I am of that puritan side that says if you are going to have betting then make it just a simple win or lose."

Paddy Power
Paddy Power has already banned betting on certain Irish fixtures

He added: "I think the horse has bolted, I don't know how you retreat unless governments help us make the industry end this process where you can corrupt little parts of a match."

Mr Babcock objects to the kind of bets where punters can wager on whether a player will service a double fault.

"I find that so offensive and I also find it quite reprehensible as it is difficult to catch that, so let's eliminate it as a possibility."

Find out more from The Report on BBC Radio 4, Thursday 11 June at 2000 BST. You can also listen via the BBC iPlayer after broadcast or download the podcast.

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see also
Britain to take on match-fixers
10 Jun 09 |  Sport Homepage

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