One of Australia’s biggest football bookmakers has demanded that the AFL inquire into Fremantle’s 116-point thrashing by Hawthon last Saturday after a fortune in winning bets were recorded across Australia.

Alan Eskander, the principal of the Betstar bookmaking firm, claimed yesterday that the AFL must never allow clubs to ”seemingly overnight” leave out the bulk of their team.

”Surely there must be an onus on those controlling the competition to make sure every team that takes the field is trying to win,” he said.

”We sat back and watched floods of money each day last week wanting to back Hawthorn, and if the average punter had known Fremantle were fielding a suburban side they would have supported them as well.”

In one of the biggest betting coups of the football year, Hawthorn last Monday was $1.25 and by Friday had firmed to $1.10. Fremantle opened at $4.40 but by game time the Dockers had blown out to $9.

”At the races, if a jockey does not allow his horse to run on its merits, the stewards grab him, ask him why and in some cases disqualify him. [Why] don’t football punters get that sought of protection? Eskander said.

”All bookmakers were smashed by the line betting. We bet a 27-point start about Hawthorn winning on Monday and by game time were out to 42 points. That’s totally unheard of,” he said.

Fremantle was missing Chris Mayne (suspension), Hayden Ballantyne (foot), Aaron Sandilands (foot), Alex Silvagni (groin), Chris Tarrant (knee) and Ryan Crowley (knee). And seven Dockers were rested: Matthew Pavlich, Adam McPhee, David Mundy, Roger Hayden, Stephen Hill, Anthony Morabito and Nathan Fyfe, with Paul Hasleby a late withdrawal with injury

Fremantle had kicked only one goal to three-quarter-time. Hawthorn led 59-2 nine minutes into the second quarter, and 88-11 early in the third quarter. It led by 113 points at the final break, before winning by 116.

Eskander said that in many cases he was obliged to ”set” punters, even though he knew what the result was going to be. ”They are loyal clients that have always used me so if I don’t bet them they go over the road to my opposition and don’t come back.”

”And do you blame them? And has the AFL thought of Freo punters who took $4 and $5 about a side that got out to $9.”

Eskander also maintains that the only reason punters are now betting on lower-order games late in the season, is that this year the AFL has a compromised draft.

”With a comprised draft you don’t have tanking and when you don’t have tanking everyone’s out to win. We got to a stage last year when hardly any punters would bet on games that Richmond and Melbourne were in because of tanking,” he said.

”Regular punters never touched sides that were going to be disadvantaged by winning. Racing has had its rules for over 100 years and the AFL has to get similar guidelines.”

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