Man Utd-Liverpool Match-Fixing Scandal,
It was a time when the First Division meant the top tier not the third; but it was also a time when the end of professional football for the duration of WWI loomed. Footballers were paid a pittance, and most of them faced the prospect of fighting and perhaps dying in the trenches. The temptation to make a few bob must have been enormous.
The Good Friday match that seven players were later convicted of fixing was at Old Trafford , between Manchester United and Liverpool: Liverpool were safe in mid-table ( Everton won the First Division that year), but Manchester United needed the then two points from a win to avoid the drop. They got them, Chelsea facing relegation (along with bottom-placed Arsenal ) accordingly, though a decision to expand the division by two clubs when it resumed after the war rescued both sides.
The scandal came to light because the players were not great at hiding what they were doing: when one Liverpool player who refused to cooperate hit the bar late on his teammates showed their anger: they and the three United conspirators stood to win a nice packet having bet on a 2-0 scoreline at odds of 7-1, a result that a missed penalty helped protect. It is probable that those who took the bets acted too, as leaflets alleging a fix and detailing the betting appeared not long after the match.
Perhaps unsurprisingly the FA found no club officials had been involved. The seven players were banned for life: one died in the war; five returned as heroes and had their bans overturned at once; the last sued the FA for libel so his remained until 1945.
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