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AFL investigates irregular betting plunges

The AFL is working with bookmakers to investigate a series of irregular betting plunges.

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The AFL is investigating suspicious spot betting on the first goal scorers in two Brisbane Lions matches in the past month.

Leading Melbourne-based bookmaker Alan Eskander, who has raised concerns about the exotic bets, said the AFL should consider enforcing a "fence" around sensitive game information to ensure it was not inadvertently leaked by officials, club sponsors or players' close associates.

In the past month, three players including Brisbane's Daniel Merrett and Matt Maguire have been solidly backed to kick the first goal of the game before the starting team lists were named on match day, Mr Eskander said.

On the rise: Brisbane's Matt Maguire (right) spoils Drew Petrie, with help from Daniel Merrett.

Brisbane's Matt Maguire (right) has been backed to kick the first goal of a game before the starting team lists were named, according to a bookie. Photo: Paul Harris

Merrett and Maguire, both defenders, started in the forward line against expectations.

Bets were also placed on Hawthorn's Brent Guerra - a midfielder-defender - to score the first goal before it was announced he had been moved to the forward line.

Mr Eskander said Daniel Merrett was backed from $101 in to $15 in the round seven games against the Gold Coast Suns.

In the same round Brent Guerra was backed from $101 in to $26 to kick the first goal against Port Adelaide, he said. Guerra did not kick the first goal.

No more than $200 was wagered on the players on each occasion, Mr Eskander said, although the spot bets were enough to markedly skew the odds.

There is no suggestion the players were in any way involved in the betting plunges.

Brisbane Lions said the club only learned of the accusations this morning and declined to comment further.

Mr Eskander said the AFL would be wise to adopt insider trading protocols around match strategies and team selections.

"It's come to my attention that sponsors walk into a room often before the game and they are privy to line-up information," he said.

"The information that they're privy to is pretty sensitive and as a consequence of that they shouldn't really be discussing this with anybody.

"The AFL needs to create an environment where there is a ring fence around this information, because it's not only players and coaches who are privy to this information."

However AFL spokesman Patrick Keane said administrators were aware of who in each club was privy to team information.

"The AFL has clear guidelines in place under our regulations regarding team information and that's clearly outlined to players and officials and that's regularly stressed at our annual information sessions," he said.

"The guidelines cover all people who have access to the team on match day.

"The AFL, as a matter of cause, regularly looks at betting information around our game; it's a regular thing that we do."

Neil Evans of Centrebet said the agency had not seen similar exotic bets, but acknowledged issues with the release of team information.

"Basically changes in the starting line-up need to be announced immediately," he said.

Mr Evans said insider trading protocols would be difficult to establish.

"If punters are not staff at the club at hand then they're free to have a bet. It's exactly the same as someone getting information on a stock that's about to move," he said.