Yarrawonga Pigeons distance themselves from Bill Vlahos' failed syndicate

EDITORIAL: If it sounds too good ...

YARRAWONGA Football-Netball Club has distanced itself from a punting club linked to a Melbourne racing identity and said to have lost as much as $500 million.

Pigeons president Glenn Brear yesterday said he was aware club members had joined the syndicate, known as The Edge and fronted by Bill Vlahos.

But Mr Brear said the club he had led for almost 20 years had no direct involvement in the scheme following reports 600 people from Yarrawonga — roughly 10 per cent of the town’s population — had lost $73 million in its collapse.

The Pigeons are enjoying the most successful period in their history with back-to-back premierships in the past two seasons, but Mr Brear said the club hadn’t been bankrolled by punting syndicate payouts.

“The Yarrawonga Football-Netball Club has never invested in or taken any profit from such a scheme,” he said.

“I can’t make it any clearer that no football funds have gone into it — we haven’t derived any financial gain or loss out of it.

“Of the 600 people mentioned as being involved in the syndicate, I am sure some are members of the football-netball club.

“But they would be members of other clubs in town as well.

“It is not a big place.”

Mr Brear said he had been aware of the scheme’s existence for up to six years, but wouldn’t divulge the identity of any local investors and whether any were recent players.

The Border Mail was told the Yarrawonga syndicate stretched beyond the football-netball club to other sports, including golf and cricket.

Members were being recruited from other areas, including Cobram, and dividends had been spent on backyard swimming pools, cars and overseas holidays.

Another source said there were links to the syndicate in Albury.

The founders of online betting agency, Sportsbet, Alan and Matthew Tripp, also ruled out any involvement in the scheme.

Sportsbet has been a major sponsor of the Pigeons.

Alan Tripp yesterday said such schemes were fraught with danger.

“If anyone who has come to Matthew or I and asked for advice on whether they should put money in any sort of betting syndicate at all over the past 20 years, I categorically say, don’t even think about it,” Mr Tripp said.

“No one makes any money out of it and you will do your dough.

“It is a quick way to doom and gloom.

“If it is a fool-proof system, do it yourself.”

He said the initial dividends would be appealing to members who are said to have invested $5000 to $100,000 in the scheme.

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