I’ll jump straight into it. This is recommendation number one.
I’m going to focus on sections 24.1 and 24.4 in particular. 24.1 makes it clear that live scoring at the $15k level has to be ended. I’ve mentioned it before, but I gamble on this level of tennis, it’s profitable for me and to lose the ability to do so would affect me.
I still support this.
Why won’t it happen? Well the Sportradar deal runs until 2021 and provides the ITF with significant funds for starters. But we also do not know if there are break clauses or penalties in the contract. Whatever way you look at it, I don’t see it ending any time soon and I’ll explain why a little further down.
24.4 is a staggering example of the lack of understanding that exists with the TIU and the ITF on these issues.
The Sportradar deal, from several sources I’ve spoken to, does not include the provision that all betting operators that use data from Sportradar are to co-operate and provide data to the TIU. There are memorandums of understanding in place with some operators, but I’ve been told that one of the biggest websites in the gambling world is not part of this. How can they have allowed that to happen?
Recommendation number two:
Now, if you look at recommendation number 1, then 2, the cynic in me can’t help but feel the drastic action the ITF undertook in creating the World Tennis Tour was a deliberate attempt to save the Sportradar deal. What better way to defend the deal than by pointing to the fact they chopped off thousands from being able to play the tour?
I’m sure they’d try and suggest that will lead to less corruption and match-fixing and those players were the issue and they’ve been dealt with.
It’s complete bollocks.
One of my favourite quotes is from The Usual Suspects in which it is said that, “The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.”. This is entirely applicable here. For all the talk of the new tour, the numbers of players being able to play etc, the one thing that has been overlooked is that prize money has once again stagnated.
Consider that the desired number of professionals that they’ve decided on is 750. That’s great, but there’s not 750 spots on the ATP tour on a weekly basis, forcing more than half of those 750 to try and play the ITF WTT. These prize pools are such that no pro can profitable play them, so what happens next? Players fix to make ends meet etc. You’re basically just watching a dog chase its tail.
I’m going to skip some recommendations as they’re not particularly interesting.
This one made me laugh. Consider this, the IRP panel convened on 2016, whilst the TIU began in 2009. So between 09-16 at least, the TIU was dealing with match-fixing cases without having a specialised betting analyst. I mean, is that a sick joke or are they really that incompetent?
I’ve mentioned the issue of match footage in my previous blog. It’s clear to anyone who gambles that the TIU are overly conservative and do not use match footage sufficiently. They need to find a way, within the legal framework (assuming it’s possible), to allow match footage to become a much bigger part of the case building process.
To that end, if the ITF continue to refuse to end live scoring at the $15k level they need to force all venues to provide live streaming of all courts. It’s really not that expensive to hook up a single camera view of a court. This has to be done.
To conclude this section, in my opinion it’s clear there is zero desire within the ITF to end the live scoring any time soon. The creation of the WTT was partly driven by a desire to keep the deal in place.
The TIU are not fit for purpose. 6 convictions a year on average when there are now more than 60,000 matches available for live betting a year is insufficient. But, I do sympathise with them, I think their task is verging on the impossible.
It’s time for the ITF to explain where the Sportradar funding goes, why exactly they will not stop the livec scoring and what will happen once 2021 approaches and the deal is close to ending.
But more importantly this should be the end of the road for Haggerty and anyone else associated with him. The ITF needs a fresh start.
I intended to end the blog there, but I think it’s time to be honest and acknowledge that the players are also to blame. For starters, you cannot fix a match without a willing participant, regardless of the reasons they may have for doing it. But as I read further into the report and saw the player survey the results shocked me.
The survey results for the various different questions indicate HUNDREDS of players who know of players fixing. Yet the TIU are convicting an average of 6 players a year? So what’s going on?
If you go back to the Lance Armstrong days, there was an omerta within the peloton. The cyclists knew who was doping but said and did nothing about it.
Can anyone argue the same isn’t happening in tennis? How effective the whistleblower process is, is up for debate, but the survey numbers vs total convictions don’t add up.
I find it really difficult at times to sympathise with the players when I see numbers like those. I’m not accusing all of them and I’m sure some really are just honest people trying their best, but to purely blame the ITF and Sportradar is a real case of whataboutery when you consider there would be zero fixing issues if the players themselves didn’t engage in it.
The ITF need to help the players and turn off live scoring, but equally the players have a duty to protect the integrity of the sport they live and they’re clearly not doing that.