Re­mem­ber the Em­bassy?

Mark Co­ton wonders if book­maker spon­sor­ship will make the same sharp exit as the to­bacco giants that bankrolled many sports decades ago

Racing Ahead - - MARK COTON -


Not the big­gest news item of the day by any means, but the rev­e­la­tion that the Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion has parted com­pany with “of­fi­cial bet­ting part­ner” Ladbrokes could have ram­i­fi­ca­tions be­yond the torn up small print of a con­tract re­port­edly worth £4m.

The minds at the FA aren’t renowned for their sharp­ness, but even they could de­duce there might be a con­flict of in­ter­est for the game in con­tin­u­ing arm-in-cor­po­rate-arm with a big book­maker af­ter the re­cent de­ci­sion to hand an 18-month ban to player Joey Bar­ton due to his re­vealed propen­sity for a flut­ter on the foot­ball.

How long be­fore other or­gan­i­sa­tions be­gin to ques­tion as­so­ci­a­tions with the book­mak­ing in­dus­try,in­clud­ing the many Premier League clubs with shirt spon­sor­ship and other tie-ins?

Spon­sor­ship in­come from book­mak­ers is re­port­edly worth in ex­cess of £500m a year, so there is plenty of slack to cut, but the same once ap­plied to the now-toxic to­bacco sec­tor.

How long be­fore the book­mak­ers’right to ad­ver­tise on na­tional tele­vi­sion also comes into ques­tion?

Their ugly and of­ten de­risory con­tri­bu­tions have been soil­ing the sec­tor for more than a decade,ever since Tony Blair re­leased a pow­er­ful ge­nie from the bot­tle in the Gam­bling Act 2005 as part of a wide-rang­ing process of dereg­u­la­tion in the gam­bling sec­tor, the im­pli­ca­tions of which are be­com­ing now vis­i­ble for all to see.


Those long-sea­soned in the bet­ting game will be aware that when you be­lieve you are onto a sure thing, when you “can’t see be­yond” a given out­come, it is time to raise the binoc­u­lars in or­der to as­sess the trou­bles which are gath­er­ing on the near hori­zon.

It looked a 1.01 shot in run­ning for Mrs May,a cou­ple of weeks back,but it wasn’t.

To­day I’m strug­gling to“get away”from Caravaggio in the Com­mon­wealth Cup (3.40).

Sel­dom has a sprinter made as pow­er­ful an im­pres­sion as last year’s Coven­try win­ner did on his reap­pear­ance at Naas. What can touch him to­day? Yet opin­ions come easy. Let’s try to bring some of that sea­son­ing to bear.

It shouldn’t come down to your opin­ion for one thing, what you hap­pen to fancy with­out due process, an ap­pro­pri­ate ad­her­ence to method, or num­bers, the nec­es­sary grid in which spec­u­la­tion can be cur­tailed, be­fore you be­gin to read be­tween the lines. And then there is the ques­tion of price. The vexed sub­ject of value. Much has been spo­ken on the sub­ject across the years, with all man­ner of the­o­ries ad­vanced then quickly for­got­ten,but its es­sen­tial con­tri­bu­tion is to un­der­cut opin­ion. Yes, you can’t see be­yond this horse. This out­come. You’re itch­ing to play. To get in­volved. But it’s even money, or there­abouts. In an 12-run­ner, Group One race, in which al­most all the cards are laid on the ta­ble. Al­most cer­tainly the mar­ket has it right. There isn’t an edge. It will prob­a­bly win and it will hurt if it wins and you haven’t backed it (though not as much as it will if you wade in, and it gets beat.)

Of course you “can’t see” it get­ting beaten, but what does it mat­ter what you can or can­not see?

Em­bassy pro­gramme

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