In May of this year John Higgins, the three-times world snooker champion, was caught on camera saying he would accept payment from an illegal gambling syndicate to lose frames. The news broke on the morning of this year’s World Snooker Championship final.
Last Sunday, with the final Test match of the summer at Lords, cricket got its turn in the spotlight. The format was almost identical.
Chapeau to the News of World. Both the sting and the timing of the publication were impeccable.
But where were the other newspapers? Is NotW the only paper interested in investigating such a story? There were enough pointers for the competition: the Higgins story demonstrated the reach of illegal betting (and the opportunity for spot betting, rather than match fixing), and there were plenty of rumours about Pakistan’s patchy performance over the last year (in matches against Australia and England). How come it was only the NotW that could put two and two together and chase up this lead?
I’m usually a big fan of the Guardian but I’m becoming increasingly disappointed this kind of scoop is something they don’t seem to bother with – save to run dozens of opinion pieces, after the fact, and jivvy along their comments section. Their desk-bound sports writers seem to have an opinion on everything, and a geeky memory for events of 20 years ago. Ace, but the internet has no shortage of opinion and reference.
Rupert Murdoch says he wants users to pay for news content online; the Guardian is determinedly free. It will be a tough gig getting people to pay, tougher still if you’re expecting people to pay to read some statto’s opinion. Sunday’s scoop at least shows Murdoch’s journalists are willing to make the effort.