BROWNE ON THE BALL: Corrupting non-league footballers is easier? Don’t bet on it!

Non-league fans expect the same standards as football supporters across the world.
Non-league fans expect the same standards as football supporters across the world.

I have two different betting apps on my phone.

Now, before you go out and call the nice men at Gamblers Anonymous and demand they whisk me away, hook big electric things to parts of my person and shock me into recovery, I’d like to point out I do not have an addiction.

Firstly, I’m too much of a Scrooge to bet a monkey, a pony, a ferret or whatever on the outcome of a sporting event.

Secondly, the reason I have one of the apps is that it, like many bookies do, streams live matches.

It’s perfect for this time of year when The Boss has nicked the TV remote and is sat there watching endless Christmas movies.

On Monday, for example, instead of watching Will Ferrell wearing green tights, necking cola and hugging other grown men, I picked my phone up and witnesses Roma drawing 2-2 at Milan.

Also this week I have caught glimpses of Lille v Bastia in Ligue 1, Kaiserslauten v Paderborn in Bundesliga 2 and spent a bit of Sunday afternoon flicking through a selection of Serie A matches.

If it’s in the top two Italian, French, Portuguese or German divisions, it’s more than likely available to watch.

And because this is how I choose to spent parts of my free time, I tend to get a bit of a feel for the in-form teams in each of these divisions.

And that means that if I do have an occasional flutter then it’ll be on these leagues, or the English non-league, where the odds are better, I have more interest and results are perhaps a little less difficult to predict, due to finances, travel etc.

But will I be able to do this much longer?

In the wake of this current match fixing scandal that is going over here, one of the suggestions to combat this grubby little issue is to try to stop bookies taking bets on non-league matches in Britain.

So-called experts tell us that match fixing and spot fixing (when a player intentionally gets sent off, booked or a team concedes the first corner etc) is more likely to occur in the in the lower tiers of football, because the wages are not as high.

What utter, absolute, offensive rubbish.

Yes, the players in the Skrill North (where Boston United play, a division I use purely as an example) may have less ability than those in the Premier League, they may earn less money.

But this disgraceful argument also suggests they are lesser men.

To suggest it’s easier to corrupt non-league players hints that footballers at this level care for nothing other than cash.

That they have no integrity, no desire to play their football the right way and try to be the best they can be.

It also dismisses the fact that the very top level of cricket and football (Serie A and the Portuguese top flight to name two) have previously been infiltrated.

Non-league is football in its purest form.

Players and managers often give up their time for minimal cash because they love the game, the same reason many club officials devote hours of their time for no pay.

It’s below the radar; passion takes precedence, not hangers-on wishing to be noticed.

Whether it’s the 200 fans who travelled to watch Boston United at Tamworth on Saturday, or the seven hardy souls who drove up north to watch Brackley at Stockport County - your club means everything to you and you expect the best from the players which represent it.

You don’t drive three hours north half expecting your team may be disadvantaged due to someone supplementing their income with a casual red card.

There are good and bad eggs at all levels of the footballing pyramid.

I want to make it clear this column is not condoning any form of gambling.

But what I am saying is that if you believe that someone’s integrity is more easily bought because they earn a lower wage than an international star, then you are nothing but an odds-on idiot.