THE snooker authorities in tandem with the Gambling Commission have launched an investigation into Wednesday’s International Championship match between Jamie Burnett and John Sutton.

The match under scrutiny saw Scot Burnett beat Irish amateur Sutton 6-0 in Barnsley to book his spot at the £600,000 event in Chengdu next month.

But the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association’s Integrity Unit received an early warning over unusual betting patterns.

Large stakes, which would have resulted in winnings of well into five figures, were placed on Burnett to win 6-0, 6-1 and 6-2.

And the Unit, headed by former Metropolitan Police detective chief superintendent Nigel Mawer, will now also probe the circumstances surrounding the contest.

Many of the bets are understood to have been placed from the Dublin area in Ireland.

World No50 Burnett, 39, is not believed to be the primary initial focus for the current investigation - though he was involved in a long-running probe into a 9-3 loss to Stephen Maguire in 2008.

That saw the police, Gambling Commission and WPBSA involved – but the case was dropped by the Scottish legal authorities and no action taken elsewhere.

Sutton narrowly failed to gain entry onto the tour at Q-School in the summer – but has competed on the European Tour.

A WPBSA statement on Thursday read: “On Wednesday, the WPBSA Integrity Unit received an early warning notification from partners in the betting industry of unusual betting on the match between Jamie Burnett and John Sutton at the International Championships Qualifiers in Barnsley.

“The match took place last night resulting in a 6-0 win for Jamie Burnett.

“The WPBSA Integrity Unit undertook specific measures both to monitor the match live and to examine the circumstances surrounding the match and player. Together with the Sports Betting Intelligence Unit at the Gambling Commission we are analysing the available information on this match to determine what action is appropriate.

“With their partners the International Centre for Sport Security (ICSS), the WPBSA Integrity Unit have information sharing agreements with the betting industry and closely monitor worldwide betting on all competitive snooker.

“The WPBSA Integrity Unit operates with complete autonomy from the WPBSA Board and World Snooker Limited. The Unit is always made aware of any unusual betting on snooker matches and will take appropriate action in every case.”

Sutton acknowledged that Wednesday had been “tough”. He told Snooker HQ, a web site with strong links to the Irish snooker scene: “All I can tell you is that I am a snooker player who has always and will always try my best to win every match.

“I have completely cooperated with WPBSA on this matter and snooker means the world to me.”


Photograph by Monique Limbos