Hindsight is a glorious thing.
It allows even the most unlikely events to be broken down and re-considered. Eventually you come to the conclusion that it wasn’t so unlikely at all, it was just something you couldn’t see. We’re all winners, heroes and future predictors in hindsight.
Leicester city to win the Premier League? Nah it was obvious, they had lots of improvement in them and barring injuries were likely to cause major headaches to the ‘big’ teams.
Greece Euro 2004? Obvious. They would play boring football and steal a bunch of 1-0 wins to the title.
Red Sox v Yankees 2004 ALCS. 3-0 down having just been smashed 19-8. Sox are always dangerous. If they got on a roll it’s very likely they would win 4 in a row.
Man Utd v Bayern Munich CL Final 1999. 1-0 down with 4 mins left. But United always score. And once they got one it was obvious they would get the second in injury time. Germans are known chokers.
Need I go on??
Bringing this discussion to the current day and the glorious ‘theatre’ that is the Indian Premier League. It has long been known that this tournament is ‘fixed’ to a certain extent. By that I mean that broadcasters encourage players to drag games out as long as possible to maximise TV advertising revenue in between overs and after wickets. How else do you explain ‘strategic timeouts?’ There is now somehow two an innings these days!
This is far from a unique situation though. The Klitschko brothers have been paid more money the longer their fights go for many years. Which is why you see them play with their food an awful lot in the early-mid rounds before putting an end to it around the 8th-9th. While there may well be an ethical/moral issue here, it is widely accepted that it happens and will continue to happen while TV revenue takes up such a large percentage of money the teams/individuals make.
The Premier League champions in 2016-17 will make around $300m. (146m pounds.) The team that finishes bottom will get the same as Leicester got this year (around $200m.) So the pull that TV companies have on professional sport across the world is stronger than it has ever been. I was at a game at Old Trafford many years ago. It was a Champions League tie and the game kicked off, then around 10 seconds in the ref blew the whistle and stopped it. He then ordered the game to be restarted. The reason? The TV company covering the game live hadn’t got back from their advert break in time for the kick off. Remarkable.
So, it is an unfortunate fact that these types of ‘fixes’ will be more and more prevalent.
However the IPL has far more concerning issues. There are already 2 teams banned for 2 years due to inherent and consistent cheating throughout the entire club. Owners betting against their own team and getting caught is just one example.
This year I’ve taken a back seat to the tournament and had some superb consistent down time away from the trading screens. However many of my colleagues have traded most or all of the tournament and are very in tune with the players, teams and flow of the tournament. They can scarcely believe what looks very much like systematic cheating that has got Bangalore to the position they are in now. It’s not so much the performances of other teams and umpires (though that has been remarkable to say the least), more the outright price of Bangalore after they began in typical Royal Challenger fashion. They were a miserable 2-5 through their first 7 games and needed to pretty much win out from there to win the tournament. Yet their price never got above $16 outright. Even when they were defeated by Mumbai in match 41 and were subsequently in huge trouble needing to win 6 in a row to win the trophy their price was $20 for any kind of money ($22 for tiny money.) That equates to around $1.65 for every game. Considering their record at that stage was 4-6, that’s bizarre. So, in my opinion, anyone that backed them outright at any price from there down was taking horrific value. That is unless you knew that they were pencilled in to play home finals and the final itself at their home ground from a long long way out.
On top of this, another barely believable stat is that there were 14 games in a row in the middle of the tournament where the result was advantageous to Bangalore’s chances of qualifying, and subsequently winning, the tournament. The two outright picks for Champion Bets still made the final 4 and considering they were $9.40 and $9.50 before the start of the tournament, that’s an achievement. This is especially true considering plenty of people were advising a back of Bangalore before a ball was bowled at a laughable price of below $4. Remarkable ineptitude. Ultimately the best advice I can give to anyone is to stay as far away from this tournament as possible.
Matt’s Sports Bets covers cricket (primarily) plus NRL, darts and golf.