FOREST Green chairman Dale Vince insists he is surprised his club are being linked to match-fixing.
Forest Green's 3-2 Conference Premier victory over Cambridge United at the New Lawn in March is one of 11 English matches identified as being a victim of betting fraud in 2013/14 according to Federbet, a Europe-wide organisation which monitors suspicious betting patterns.
Vince said: “It’s the first we’ve heard of any suspicion about our match with Cambridge, or any FGR match.
“Match-fixing is about losing games not winning them, which all teams normally seek to do – so this can’t involve FGR, we won that game.
“And I remember that game – it was a very good match, there’s no way Cambridge threw it, and I can’t believe that anyone who saw the game would think so.
“It may have been an unexpected result for the bookies, but that’s all it was.”
The Belgium-based body presented a report to the European Parliament outlining their findings, which indicates 110 games across the continent were rigged last season with suspicions over a further 350 – a figure the report said was 20 per cent up on the previous year.
Federbet’s report states England provided the highest number of matches of any country across Europe in which match-fixing took place with nine Conference North and South fixtures also identified along with the Women’s Super League game between Notts County and Everton in April.
Meanwhile, the Football Conference issued a statement attacking Federbet’s report, claiming there was no evidence to suggest any of their fixtures had been the subject of unusual betting patterns.
The statement said: “The Football Conference works closely with the Football Association on all matters concerning integrity within our sport.
“This relationship with the Football Association includes liaison around any suspicious betting activity or patterns.
“Furthermore, as part of the robust monitoring system employed in England, such liaison is conducted in conjunction with the Gambling Commission, leading betting companies and other agencies appointed by the Football Association.
“At this time there is no evidence that any of the fixtures specifically listed by Federbet, relating to our competition, have been the subject of report or investigation.
“Therefore, we are at a loss to understand what evidence may exist for Federbet to make such claims.
“Federbet has not consulted with the Football Conference about making such alleged information public.”
ESSA secretary general Khalid Ali said: “ESSA members employ sophisticated internal security mechanisms to identify suspicious betting patterns and which importantly includes essential transactional data on who is betting on what, where and when, whereas Federbet appears to be primarily using betting odds movements as the principal means of detecting match-fixing.
“That approach is not conclusive and prone to false results.
“It is also important to remember that betting irregularities do not necessarily equate to corruption.
“ESSA’s latest figures list 148 alerts, which after detailed examination led to 30 suspicious cases.
“Furthermore, establishing corruption is a multi-sector partnership activity involving a widely understood protocol with sporting bodies and regulatory authorities which Federbet is ignoring.
“Only in co-operation with those other stakeholders can full and proper investigations take place which can then determine whether corruption has occurred.
“ESSA has information-sharing agreements with over 20 major sports bodies, such as Fifa and the IOC, as well as a number of national gambling regulators.
“This partnership approach has been particularly successful in driving the corruptors away from regulated markets, creating a safe and secure environment for customers.”
But Baranca defended Federbet’s approach, adding: “I won’t make polemic with ESSA, our job is to solve the problem.
“We’re waiting for someone to contact us and we can share our information with the police or with the leagues and co-operate with them in any way.”