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Shock survey finds almost half of respondents think races are fixed

Goodwood: festival provided lots of talking points
A survey suggests 49 per cent of people believe race-fixing takes placeCredit: Edward Whitaker

The BHA and bookmaking industry have been quick to react to a survey in which almost one in two respondents expressed a belief race-fixing takes place in Britain.

The sport's governing body has reiterated education and communication are central to the sport's future strategy on integrity regulation.

The results of the survey, which named football and racing as Britain's two least trusted sports, were deemed highly questionable and "pretty bizarre" by a spokesman for leading bookmaker Coral, which claimed its own hard evidence flew in the face of the public polling.

The survey of 2,000 people, commissioned by Portland Communications and carried out by Populus, a consumer research agency, revealed 49 per cent of respondents linked racing to the fixing of results.

In the 'integrity index' compiled with the survey's findings, darts was put forward as the most trusted sport, while 62 per cent of those football fans questioned replied they believe it to be corrupt.

Brant Dunshea, BHA director of integrity and regulatory operations, said: "This survey data indicates a level of mistrust amongst the British public about integrity in sport in general, including horseracing.

"While British racing, owing to its long-established links to the betting industry, has developed mature monitoring systems and a good reputation among horseracing and sporting bodies regarding how we regulate the integrity of the sport, we are aware there is more we can do to inform the public, and indeed the sport’s participants, about the high standards that are in place.

"We are aware responsibility for the sport’s reputation lies with the regulator. We must be seen as credible and progressive when it comes to dealing with the important issue of integrity and lead from the front."

The Portland UK Sport Integrity Index (showing most to least trustworthy sport as per Populus survey findings with data transferred from findings using a weighted algorithm)

1. Darts
2. Golf
3. Rugby Union
4. Snooker
5. Rugby League
6. Cricket
7. Tennis
8. Cycling
9. Athletics
10. Boxing
11. Horseracing
12. Football

Dunshea added: "The recent integrity review placed education and communication as central to the sport’s future strategy when it comes to integrity regulation, and recommendations specific to these aspects are being implemented presently.

"We would hope this approach goes some way to increasing the level of trust which the sporting, betting and racing public have in British racing."

Simon Clare: Coral head of public relations
Simon Clare: 'Horse racing will always figure prominently in these types of mass market integrity surveys'Credit: Ian Walton

Coral PR director Simon Clare was clear in having little confidence in the Portland/Populus results.

"When it comes to betting, customer confidence in the integrity of the sport, and any specific sports event, is extremely important, and should never be taken for granted," said Clare.

"However, the results of this survey are pretty bizarre in that they suggest there is a lack of confidence in the integrity of football that flies completely in the face of every other performance metric; attendances, television audiences, financial income, and betting turnover, which continues to grow year on year."

Clare added: "Horseracing will always figure prominently in these types of mass market integrity surveys v other sports given its historic image, fuelled by both real life integrity events over the years and in no small part to influential mass market fiction like the Dick Francis books, but the sport continues to be very popular as a betting medium, as well as a spectator sport.

"In 2017 racing is celebrating record prize-money levels and terrific attendance levels, so there's a lot going right with the sport.

"That said, everyone involved in the sport knows maintaining and improving public confidence in the integrity of racing is an essential element in what is now the number-one objective to widen the sport's appeal."

A spokesman for Portland said: "We commissioned the research because we felt that sport was at a tipping point in terms of its perception with the general public. We wanted to find out what impact scandals, corruption and doping was having on people's trust in sport, and what they were prepared to do as a result.”

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Lee MottersheadSenior writer
Published on 10 August 2017Last updated 13:45, 10 August 2017