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Stats Perform widens sports integrity offering in Control Risks tie-up

Stats Perform, the sports technology company, has joined forces with the international specialist risk consultancy Control Risks to offer sports integrity solutions to the market.

The combined offering is aimed at rights-holders, international federations and governing bodies. Through Stats Perform’s Integrity Unit, they will be able to tap into Control Risks’ services, including forensic accounting, data analytics and global investigative capabilities, to tackle corruption and match fixing.

The tie-up is expected to be unveiled today at the ABC Minds Sports conference in Lausanne.

It widens out Stats Perform’s existing work in the integrity space, such as its monitoring of betting markets and analysis in the fight against match fixing.

The two companies said: “The partnership will combine Stats Perform’s offering across prevention, detection and investigation with Control Risks’ global investigative practice and experience in building resilient and compliant governance programmes. Together, they will help stakeholders ensure their integrity, anti-doping and compliance programmes are fit-for-purpose, while protecting the long-term value of their brands.”

Services offered by the partnership will also include due diligence on potential investors, sponsors, new transfer signings or “a business looking to partner with a new league or competition.”

Jake Marsh, head of integrity at Stats Perform, told SportBusiness: “This type of offering doesn’t really exist. We wanted to bring a unique integrity and risk management partnership to the world of sport, that’s to rights-holders, governing bodies, clubs and sponsors.

“I come from an investigations and risk management background and I’ve always been conscious of the fact that companies like us and others in our space offer the services we do, but we need to do more in terms of the business of sport. Sport is catching up with sectors such as the finance sector when it comes to regulation, compliance and best practice. But I do think sport needs all the help it can get.”

Jonny Gray, global head of sport at Control Risks, said: “This is a very exciting development as the sports industry looks for comprehensive support to combat existential threats to its integrity, trust and value. It gives Stats Perform’s clients the opportunity for a complete integrity solution.”

On the specific importance of investor checks in football, Marsh remarked: “We’ve seen a couple of football clubs this season which, to all intents and purposes, their ownership is transparent and it’s clear who the presidents are. But actually the money behind these clubs is very opaque and we’re increasingly seeing investment in football clubs as part of a wider modus operandi for organised match fixing.”

Control Risks already works with candidate cities, organising committees, governing bodies, leagues, event organisers, broadcasters, sponsors, clubs and stadium operators. Its clients in sport are protected by non-disclosure agreements, although its work with Fifa, football’s world governing body, has been reported in the public domain.

Gray told SportBusiness that the company’s integrity business sport has “taken off” since major developments to affect sports governance in recent years. These have included the US Department of Justice’s intervention in the Fifa scandal, the crisis to affect athletics’ IAAF and tennis’ governing bodies setting up their Independent Review Panel.

He said that the new service offered in conjunction with Stats Perform would be attractive to rights-holders who do not have the capacity to set up their own integrity operation or turn to public investigative services, as the International Olympic Committee does with Interpol.

He remarked: “For many rights-holders around the world and especially in emerging markets, those options are not available to them. They do have the ability to turn to a company like us, to be guided by Jake’s [and his team’s] intelligence into which players, officials or coaches we need to interview and potentially collect data from. Defining the structure of a potential conspiracy and mapping the relationship between all those involved is core business for us.”

On the integrity side, Stats Perform already works with rights-holders who have deals in place with the company for their betting streaming rights, data and/or media rights. While Stats Perform has had the chance to work with integrity clients independently, the new offering with Control Risks will help to “open up” the client list, according to Marsh.

He noted: “We do have the independence to go and look at our own projects. [For example] we’re working for one major regional football body at the moment and working directly with their integrity unit. [But] this partnership enables us to provide different types of stakeholders in sport with these services.”