Sports IntegrityTue 28th Apr 2015
Dr David Forrest, Professor of Economics; Dr Ian McHale, Reader in Statistics; and Dr Rob Simmons, Senior Lecturer in Economics, of the Centre for Sports Business at Salford Business School have made important contributions in sports business and gambling economics over many years. This positions them as world leading experts on sports integrity.
In particular, Forrest and Simmons (2003) explored the growth of sports betting and the consequent public-policy issues. They argued that while sport may extract revenue from betting, there are also costs resulting from corruption. They discuss where the risk of corruption is highest and how this risk might be mitigated by sports governing bodies and government. Later work by Forrest, McHale and Simmons on betting markets provided an understanding of how betting markets function.
This in turn led to a profound understanding of corruption and how the identification of “unusual” betting patterns is important for signalling “match fixing”. Leading scientists, including Forrest and Simmons, had previously based analysis of match fixing on the choices of sports insiders: whether or not to accept bribes, adapting the general literature on the economics of crime. Forrest (2012) offers a new insight: that it is relevant to consider the demand side as well as the supply side of the market for fixes and that developments in betting markets have increased the demand for fixes.
Benefits and impacts
The credibility of sport is threatened by an unprecedented wave of proven cases of manipulation of events for betting gain. This undermines the commercial viability of sport. Sport is particularly vulnerable given the importance of sponsorship in the modern sports business model. Italian league football clubs, exposed as parties to match fixing, have experienced a 20% drop in sales relative to other clubs in the league. The withdrawal of sponsorship following match fixing revelations precipitated the collapse of the Chinese football league. Match fixing is also a threat to the integrity of sport as sportspeople are role models and brand icons.
In this context, the work of Forrest, McHale and Simmons informs the development of international codes of conduct for deterring and dealing with match fixing and for supporting international policy development to combat corruption in sport. “Threats to Sports Integrity from Developments in the Betting Market” (2008 report to Central Council for Physical Recreation by Forrest and McHale) brought risk factors that threaten sports integrity to the attention of the FA, ECB, LTA, RFU, and BHA. Reports “Environmental Review of Integrity in Tennis”, and “Threats to the Integrity of Sport in Australia” followed. Forrest and McHale briefed the then Minister of Sport, Gerry Sutcliffe, MP and influenced “The Parry Report”.
Forrest became a key advisor to the International Centre for Sports Security (ICSS), which brings together leaders in world sport and world betting, and moderated a round table discussion among key stakeholders that included the Director General of Interpol. Forrest was a key contributor to the Sports Corruption Working Group of MINEPS V (2013), the fifth meeting of international Ministers of Sport. This meeting set out policies for national governments and international sporting bodies to combat match fixing. Following a 2012 report on match fixing by the Institut de Relations Internationales et Strategiques (IRIS), a partnership between the University of Salford, IRIS, European Lotteries, and Sport Accord (the federation of world sports federations including FIFA, ICC, IAAF, ITF, IRB, UCI) is delivering an international seminar series on Sports Integrity. Forrest co-wrote these seminars. Forrest gave keynotes at the INTERPOL Experts’ Conference 2012 and the World Bank Seminar 2013. The study “An Examination of the Threats to the Integrity of Sports”, commissioned by the EU Sports Platform and launched in the European Parliament, Brussels, comprehensively cites Salford Business School researchers.
Forrest D (2012) The threat to football from betting-related corruption, International Journal of SportFinance, pp. 99-116.
Forrest D, Simmons R (2003) Sport and gambling, Oxford Review of Economic Policy 19, 598-611.