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UK Government appoints QC to lead Football Index inquiry

| By Nosa Omoigui
Malcolm Sheehan QC has been appointed to lead the UK government's review into the collapse of football stock market Football Index.
Vasco Betfair

Shortly after Football Index’s operator BetIndex went into administration, an independent government inquiry into the the collapse was announced in order to determine how the collapse occurred and whether more could have been done to prevent it.

The review will cover the time from September 2015 – when BetIndex obtained its licence from the Gambling Commission) – through to March 2021 – when the Commission officially suspended BetIndex’s licence as the operator entered administration.

Sheehan will review the Commission’s actions towards Football Index, including its initial decision to license the product, and general monitoring and assessing afterwards.

The review will also cover the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) so as to ascertain whether Football Index should have been regulated by that body under the Financial Services and Markets Act.  

Sheehan is a barrister for Henderson Chambers, specialising in product liability and group actions, commercial and insurance disputes, commercial property, personal injury, health & safety, public and regulatory law.

The findings from the review will be published in the summer, and will feed into the government’s Gambling Act Review. The Gambling Commission, which initially defended its decision to wait before suspending BetIndex’s licence, is carrying out its own independent review which will run alongside the government inquiry.

Football Index bettors still await a court ruling on the status of the funds they had in their accounts or in active bets. The case to determine the distribution of funds in a player protection account was raised to the High Court, where it is still ongoing. This account is intended only for account funds, but the court must rule on a cut-off date which winnings should be paid up to.

Documents released ahead of this hearing revealed that BetIndex had planned to go into administration days before making a change to its dividend system.

BetIndex has also announced plans to re-launch the platform, allowing customers who are owed money to have an ownership stake as part of a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA).

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