[Ed. Note: hit the jump for the update to the update]
There's a stink around Carrow Road this evening and it's not just the usual daft draft blowing up from Delia's kitchen. No, this odor's been brewing since an October 4 match between Championship sides Norwich City and Derby County. The game is now under informal investigation by the FA over concerns about betting irregularities in Asia and a bizarre foul by Derby's resident twelve-stepper, goalkeeper Roy Carroll.
FA Chief Lord Triesman has, per the BBC, said that match-fixing suspicions are being "taken seriously." The spokesman for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport wrote that there will be "no hiding place for cheats." And notorious Tokyo-based crime boss Fuzi "The Fist" Fuzigama is reported to have put out a 90m Yen bounty on the head of striker Nathan Ellington, who potted the winner for Derby, and if the allegations are true, cost a lot of folks a lot of money. (Two of those sentences are entirely true.)
For his part, Derby manager Paul Jewell isn't impressed. He's called the story "nonsense." But as Joe the Plumber would say, -- no wait, Fuck Joe the Plumber. The details, circumstantial evidence, conspiracy theories, and character assassination after the jump.
**NO IRREGULAR BETTING**
Norwich City released a statement this afternoon, citing a report from the European Sports Security Commission and the Association of British Bookmakers, saying that there is NO REASON to suspect any illegal actions surrounding the October 4th match.
per Bigus: It looks like a couple Asian bookies decided have some fun with the punters and tip them off to a fix that never existed, making a pretty penny in the process.
Oh well. Good news I'd say. Still, feel free to enjoy my fanciful conspiracy theory as spelled out below.
Unprofessional Foul launched its own investigation into the matter and came up with the following. All credit to Bigus Dickus, whose beloved Canaries could end up looking pretty bad if this all bears itself out. He's played the Hoffman to my Redford all afternoon.
The worst case looks like this:
Derby's former West Ham and Northern Ireland keeper Roy Carroll, who checked himself into rehab for booze and gambling (he owed a teammate £30,000) in November 2006, got stuck into another tight spot, only this time with a group of unforgiving Asian types. In an effort to redress his debts, and fast, he agreed to take a dive in an early October match at Carrow Road.
There was nothing untoward in the run-up and the first half played out as one might expect, with Derby taking an early 1-0 lead off a blistering header from Rob Hulse.
Into halftime we went when, according to a newspaper report delivered to the FA, there was a "massive movement" in bets across Asia. Those wagers, we're told, mostly picked Norwich to win.
Cheat? Maybe. Flexible? You betcha.
The teams came out for the second half and not six minutes later Carroll was off with a red card. And not just any red card. See above, the Derby keeper takes a boot to an onrushing Leroy Lita's face, causing the striker to hit the deck and earning Norwich an, ahem, timely spot-kick. Sammy Clingan would take his chance and with a tick under 40 minutes to play, Norwich were level and a man up for the remainder.
Carroll, if you're to believe this dreck, had done his job. The score was even and Norwich now had an eternity-- and the man advantage-- to find a winner. At home.
Alas, there would be no second score for the 21st place team from Norfolk. The game would stay tied until the 85th minute, when Canary keeper David Marshall did some stepping of his own, an unfortunate stroll off his line, and allowed the aforementioned Ellington to roll home the winner for Derby.
Time expired and despite the best efforts of the Asian match-fixers, the degenerate keeper, and the referee (possibly-- there's been some question about Darren Dreadman's handling of the match), Norwich had failed win. The fix was broken.
This is the theory, even if no one in the press or among the investigators has taken the risk of spelling it out. If for no other reason than to save Norwich the embarrassment, I'd have to say it's an unlikely tale. No one with the power to shift a noticeable amount of money across Asia would be stupid enough to pin their small fortune on one apparently delinquent Roy Carroll. There's also the issue of betting customs, as Derby chairman Adam Pearson notes, "large bets go on in the Far East all the time and that's their culture, it's not something you come across in UK football, certainly not at this club."
Pearson in his indignation slammed local MPs for making a meal of the allegations, affecting umbrage at his club's being caught up in what he's deemed a provincial kerfuffle. Still, his "they should be looking at events closer to home and maybe looking at crime on their own doorstep, people getting murdered in their city centres and the financial turmoil" comment sounds a bit like a certain 18-year-old's protests against a liquor fine.
The investigation then, by all accounts, is ongoing. And there's nothing for us news types like an ongoing investigation. Our ongoing surveillance of the situation will too remain... ongoing.