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Leave Ladbrokes alone ‘they’ve got a job to do’

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“It’s a bookmaking organisation and they’ve got a job to do. Their job is to obviously run their business as best they can.”

Those were the words from SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster in the aftermath of league sponsors Ladbrokes taking odds on Cetic manager Ronny Deila to get the sack in the aftermath of Celtic’s defeat to Malmo in the UEFA Champions League qualifiers this season.

Ladbrokes used the defeat to open a book on Deila to get the chop, by using the Tom Jones song ‘Delilah’ to market it to willing punters. They posed the question “Bye, bye, bye Deila?” and said the odds on the Norwegian being sacked had shortened to 3/1.

They made Collins 2/1 favourite and offered Lambert at 5/1 with Hibs boss Stubbs priced at 6/1.

Nothing strange in that yet the furore over the Derek McInnes betting issue shows the clear hypocrisy of many – not only the fans, but also the media writing column after column backing McInnes and criticising Ladbrokes – after all as I said in a previous article they just love to write articles about managers potentially getting the sack to sell more of their papers.

On top of Ronny Deila potentially getting the bullet, Ladbrokes also had odds on Gary Locke bidding adieu to Rugby Park before suspending bets on the Killie manager to be the first Premiership manager to get the sack.

At the end of August, SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster stated there were no plans to speak to the league sponsors about their working practices and insisted it was part and parcel of the industry that they were in.

He said: “There were no discussions about their marketing plans when we signed the deal and we wouldn’t look to impose on the way they run their business. I wouldn’t have thought any league would.

“It’s a bookmaking organisation and they’ve got a job to do. Their job is to obviously run their business as best they can.”

Jump to October and on the back of the McInnes ‘storm in a tea cup’ outrage, Aberdeen are demanding the SPFL investigate Ladbrokes over the book on their manager.

As timestamps on the social media accounts prove – Ladbrokes suspended betting on McInnes getting the chop after a flurry of bets BEFORE specific twitter accounts tweeted ludicrous rumours about McInnes and his private life.

In fact Ladbrokes only began promoting the ‘McInnes to be the next boss to leave’ bets on their social media accounts following a flurry of bets – again BEFORE the ‘parody’ account posted any of their tweets related to McInnes.

All three managers listed above were in line to lose their jobs not based on facts, but speculation. Fans lay bets throughout the season on such bets asking bookies to give them odds even if they do not have any on the go at the moment – it is the nature of the beast. In fact if you can bet on some z list wannabe on Big Brother winning the reality TV show why not the next manager to get the old heave ho?

Does it really affect managers that much? After all Mark Warburton was laughably touted as one of the candidates for the Liverpool job following Brendan Rodgers’ sacking – I believe at odds of 20/1.

Today we even had Barry Ferguson roll out a few comments in support of his former Rangers team mate and how such issues prove that he is correct in not creating an online social media account.

The former Rangers captain, in his Daily Record column, said: “They [Ladbrokes] are sponsors of our league. How can they square that off with acting in a way that undermines one of the country’s title 
challengers? It’s not right. These people are supposed to be getting behind Scottish football, not causing it grief.

“When they announced they were stopping taking bets on McInnes being the next boss to lose his job they were being naughty. And to then install him as 4-1 for the Scotland job? Do these people think we button up the back?

“I know I’d be raging if they did something like that to me so I don’t blame Derek or the Dons for reacting how they did.

“If I were them I’d be demanding Neil Doncaster and the SPFL take action as this sort of thing must not happen again.”

Did Ferguson demand action over the Deila or the Locke book? Or was it simply because McInnes was a pal of his and former team mate? And must not happen again? It’s certainly not the first time it has happened THIS season let alone for decades gone by and it won’t be the last time a manager will be facing a flurry of bets with odds on him leaving a club because of speculation whether it is off the field or on field matters.

Is Scottish football or elements of our game that soft or that lilly livered that they can’t handle a bookie laying odds on one of them getting the chop?

God forbid they start to hear their own supporters calling for them to get the sack from the stands – they would be calling the Samaritans for help.

If they can’t handle this sort of scrutiny at their own expense then they really are in the wrong job.

In fact losing 5-1 to St.Johnstone, losing to Hibernian in the League Cup and dropping points against Inverness Caley Thistle would have more impact on McInnes than a bookies wee book on him getting the chop.

Looking at a number of betting websites this morning – they all run similar bets on managers who are not even close to getting the sack. Both north and south of the border. If these individuals want Ladbrokes regulated because they are league sponsors then surely that regulation has to be wheeled out throughout the betting industry?

Otherwise what is stopping Ladbrokes from saying ‘see you later and give us our money back’? Not before the multi-million pound firm laughs in the face of the SPFL fronted by Doncaster trying to tell them what they can and cannot do.

The SPFL need Ladbrokes, do Ladbrokes NEED to sponsor the SPFL?

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About Author

scotzine

Andy Muirhead is the Editor of Scotzine and the Scottish Football fanzine FITBA. He is the Scottish Football columnist for The Morning Star and has written for a number of other publications including ESPN, Huffington Post UK, BT Life's a Pitch and has had his work featured in the Daily Record, The Scotsman and the Daily Mail.

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