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BOLA rejects singles offer; I have had a big number of bookmakers contact me saying they want to be able to lay singles.

HOPES that football punters would be able to place singles on all Premiership matches from the start of the new season have been dashed after the Betting Office Licensees

Association (BOLA) rejected plans to relax the current

minimum-trebles restriction.

Punters have long complained about being forced into backing uncompetitive trebles - at present singles are only permitted on matches shown live on television - but Football Fixtures, the organisation responsible for licensing bookmakers on behalf of the Premier League, Football League and Scottish Leagues, indicated last month that they would be in favour of changing the rules to permit singles on all top-flight matches.

The offshore arms of some of Britain's major bookmakers currently offer unrestricted singles to their clients and it is believed Football Fixtures feel it would be easier to chase up copyright payments from these firms if every layer

operated on the same basis.

But it now looks likely that punters who struggle to come to terms with the ambiguity of being able to have a single on a 72-hole golfing match bet but not a Premiership blockbuster like Arsenal v Tottenham will have to suffer this anomaly for some time to come.

Barry Faulkner, the BOLA secretary, confirmed: "The BOLA council has met to discuss the issue of football singles and have said they do not wish to extend the facility to all matches."

The announcement that BOLA, who represent some 40 companies, have given the proposal the thumbs-down comes just days after a Racing Post survey found that five of Britain's leading seven bookmaking firms said they would offer unrestricted Premiership singles given the opportunity.

But Faulkner said: "There was no opposition to the decision - indeed, the decision was reached after a not particularly lengthy discussion.

"The companies involved did not think it would be good for business."

It is believed the crucial factor in the decision is the copyright fee. British bookmakers are in the middle of a two-year deal with the Leagues and fear they will be required to pay more to be able to offer singles.

But the refusal of BOLA to approve the relaxation of what is seen by most punters as a patently antiquated rule does not mean the matter ends there. A number of bookies, some BOLA members and some not, have expressed their determination to press on with attempts to bring about changes to the minimum-

trebles rule.

And Faulkner himself admitted: "The BOLA council has said it does not want to

offer singles on all Premiership matches, but that is not to say individual firms cannot make their own arrangements."

John MacFarlane, the boss of Football Fixtures, conceded his original aim to implement changes in time for the new season will not now happen, but stressed BOLA's decision does not mean the intended

alterations are now dead in the water.

MacFarlane said: "At the moment the singles rule stands as before, and it will not change in time for the new season in Scotland or England.

"But there may be a change within a matter of weeks. The situation has been considered in depth by the Leagues and it is not dead by any means.

"I have had a big number of bookmakers contact me saying they want to be able to lay singles on all Premiership matches."

Ladbrokes and Stanley have made no secret of their objection to change. But Hills, one of the firms who had told the Post they would offer singles if permitted and were represented at the BOLA council meeting, have now taken a neutral stance.

The firm's Graham Sharpe said: "We have been offered nothing yet. If and when we are we will look at it."
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Title Annotation:Sports
Author:Millington, Bruce
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Jul 21, 1999
Words:613
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