Kuban 5 Volga 0. It didn’t happen as the betting patterns suggested, and emphatically so.
So what happened?
Theory 1: Angered by suggestions they were to throw the game, Dan Petrescu’s team went out there and showed what they could do. There are no fixed matches in Russia according to Kuban’s sporting director.
Kuban’s general director Tweeted: ‘It’ll be interesting to see what they’ll write now. Maybe that, having been scared off, Kuban and Volga fixed it the other way round???’
Wouldn’t dream of it. If I did, it would be theory 2.
But there was certainly plenty on the web about a possible fix pre-match, which is fairly unusual. It’s uncommon for the suspicions to make it into national dailies like Sport Express at this point, as they did this time.
Theory 3: someone with a bit of money played the market. Would be easy: put £10000 on an unfancied away team, leading to a flurry of bets on them which in turn lowers the odds on them and raises the odds on the stronger team winning. Then, once the odds are relatively high, put money on the home side. When they win you cash in….
Hope not, hope not. Hopefully it was theory 1, and the game was played entirely in the right spirit. But there was some reason why people started betting heavily on Volga.
Saul Pope is the author of ‘New Holland’, a mystery novel set in Russia and published by Espresso Books. He also writes for the football magazine ‘When Saturday Comes’.